Security Officers

Security Officers Win Tentative Agreement on a Great New Contract

On Heels of 1-Day Strike, Twin Cities Security Officers Reach Tentative Agreement to Strengthen Middle Class

With their first union contract, suburban security officers grow Local 26 by 1,000 members

Minneapolis, MN – Twin Cities security officers are celebrating today after reaching a tentative agreement with all of their employers that strengthens the middle class through stable, full-time jobs. The major victory came late Thursday, when the remaining six subcontractors finally came to a tentative agreement with 2,000 security officers.

“We are exhausted, but elated,” said Elena Krelberg, Local 26 security officer. “We won because we all stood together. Standing shoulder to shoulder with our community, security officers and janitors together won the best contracts in the history of the local service sector industry.”

SEIU Local 26 security officers spent Wednesday on the streets in a one-day strike; employers came back to the bargaining table Thursday morning. After another marathon bargaining session, security officers were able to win a contract with many of the same standards won by 4,000 SEIU Local 26 janitors last weekend. This agreement marks the first contract for 1,000 suburban security officers who formed their union with SEIU Local 26 in January 2011 and have been working to settle a contract ever since, growing the labor movement in Minnesota. The tentative agreement with security officers includes hard-fought gains in:

  • Full-time work: Security officers protected hundreds of full-time jobs that would have been converted to part-time, resulting in lower wages and loss of health care and other benefits. Instead, they secured stable, full-time positions, strengthening job security.
  • Wages: Security officers agreed to wage increases of $1.20 over three years. The wage increase helps bring security officers out of poverty and pumps an additional $18 million a year into the local community.
  • Healthcare: Major gains were made in healthcare coverage for security officers. Suburban security officers will be offered employer-based healthcare coverage for the first time ever. All security officers secured better health care coverage, which will enable workers to access affordable coverage, rather than be forced to rely on public programs paid for by taxpayers.
  • Sick days: Security officers won one additional day of sick time, allowing them to stay at home when ill.
  • Professionalizing the Industry: With the creation of the “Senior Officer” job classification, security officers made gains in their efforts to professionalize an industry that keeps so many people and so much property safe.

The tentative agreement is being hailed as tangible evidence of how union membership and participation can help workers improve their lives. At a time of widespread wage and benefit stagnation, security officers in the Twin Cities have been able to keep more of the profits they provide to some of Minnesota’s wealthiest corporations. In 2002, security officers were paid as little as $7.00 an hour with few, if any, benefits. By negotiating several union contracts—each one better than the last—with their employers over the years, security officers have created a path to work themselves into the middle class.

Security officers will join janitors Saturday when both groups will meet to ratify their tentative agreements.

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Twin Cities Security Officers Call One-Day Strike Today to Protect the Middle Class

Minneapolis, MN — Just after 4:00 a.m., SEIU Local 26 security officers reached a tentative agreement with one of the subcontractors, American Security, after 14 hours of emergency bargaining through the night. American Security is the market leader in the Twin Cities and also based in St. Paul. Due to the tentative agreement, security officers will not be striking against American Security. The remaining six employers would not agree to the tentative deal, however.

Security officers are today launching a one-day strike against the remaining (more…)

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“They make more money by foreclosing on you than by accepting your payments”

A couple of years back Minnesota security officer John Vinje and his wife bought a little home in Bloomington, Minnesota.

“For whatever reason, she fell in love with this itty bitty house in Bloomington,” John says.

Bloomington is a nice town, a place where lots of folks would want to live. It offers urban living, lots of parks, and prosperity—thanks to a thriving retail and hospitality sector. There’s also a memorial to local hero Tom Burnett, a Bloomington native, who was among the 44 people killed on United Airlines Flight 93 during the September 11 terrorist attacks. John, a veteran of the United States Air Force, appreciates that.

They bought the house and moved in. John had his job. His wife had hers. They met their responsibilities, working hard and making house payments to USBank, which is headquartered in Minnesota. They were comfortable and well established.

Or so they thought.

“Due to a change in my wife’s work duties, she lost $2,000 a month in income,” John says.

Soon they were unable to make payments. They tried to work things out with USBank. “We tried to get a loan modification like you’re supposed to. USBank would say, ‘Yes, we’ll work with you.’ But they kept saying they never got our paperwork or that they lost it. We must have sent the stuff in like eight times. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, they were pursuing foreclosure.”

John and his wife lost their home to USBank—the nation’s fifth-largest commercial bank, which raked in $19.1 billion in revenue in 2011.

Why did they lose their home to USBank? “They can make more by foreclosing on you than by accepting your payments,” says John.

John and his wife are trying to get back on their feet. John is one of 6,000 Twin Cites janitors and security officers who are negotiating with their employers for the good jobs that our community needs to strengthen our economy and bolster a rising, thriving middle class.

Knowing that rebuilding the middle class is a task for all of us, John and his fellow security officers are joining together with members of community groups, faith-based groups, environmental groups, student groups, and labor groups under the banner of “Unlock Our Future” to open the doors of prosperity to all Minnesotans.

“If they keep this up, pretty soon there isn’t going to be a middle class,” says John. “We’re going to have ghost towns like during the Depression.”

But John will be taking to the streets with fellow Minnesotans, proposing an alternative version of the future. “Communities will benefit from the creation of good jobs because there wouldn’t be all these vacant, boarded-up homes. People will be able to spend more in the local community and we’ll be able to invest in infrastructure.”

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I can’t just leave my wife out in the cold for healthcare, she gave birth to my sons.

St. Paul security officer Gene Worley works hard. “Right now,” Gene says, “I can’t take a night off because of staffing.”

A 13-year veteran in the security industry, Gene works at a building containing some very high-profile facilities. “There’s the Department of Motor Vehicles, Homeland Security, State Patrol, and the Attorney General’s office,” Gene says. “It’s a heavy-duty site.”

The 50-year old remembers a time in America when if you worked hard for a living, (more…)

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How Wells Fargo is Holding One Minnesota Family Back.

Minnesota security officer James Matias has worked at the same job for seven years.

It’s a good thing because James has a lot of responsibilities. He and his wife have been blessed with six children.“Five of them are still at home,” James says. “They’re great kids. My daughter plays basketball. My son plays football. And my other son is a dancer in a conservatory.”

Study after study shows that when children are involved in extra-curricular activities, they learn how to succeed—not just in sports or the arts, but in life. James will do whatever it takes to give his children a chance to succeed.

He and his wife have tried to save. “It’s been our struggle just to put five bucks away here and there,” James says. “But the ends just don’t meet so we end up using the money we save up.”

So James has been forced to resort to direct deposit advances at Wells Fargo—which has $1.4 trillion in assets.    (more…)

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Letter from Security Bargaining Team

I am sending this in response to the misinformation that the companies are sending officers, and I as a security officer want to make sure fellow officers have the facts. At least one company has begun to circulate intimidation letters to their officers, but I expect most of the companies at some point will be circulating letters with similar content. The statements from the reported company letter (more…)

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Five Years Ago, Security Officers in SEIU Local 26 Struck and Won! Now it is our turn.

“Our manager told us we would lose our job if we struck. But we went on strike and every single officer went back to work.” ,Dawn McCarthy, American Security, 180 E 5th St

“I hear the janitor’s bosses are using the same old scare tactics they tried with security officers. Don’t believe them! We struck and we won” ,Kim Martini, Securitas, US Bank

“We had a terrible healthcare plan, that left us with big bills, but after we struck, we won a new healthcare plan that doesn’t leave us with huge bills.”,John Graham, Security, Ameriprise

“I hope that janitors will decide to stand up like we did. Everyone at my building struck, and we won.”,Renita Whicker, ABM US Bancorp

“I hope that janitors will decide to stand up like we did. Everyone at my building struck, and we won.” ,Renita Whicker, ABM US Bancorp

"I work for American /Marsden. At my building we all went on strike, and we won a great contract.” ,Howard Worley, American Security, Town Square

“I saw the letter ABM gave to janitors. They gave us almost exactly the same letter, trying to scare us, but we stood together, struck, and won.” Tommy Covington, ABM Security, US Bancorp

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Strike vote set for Feb 9th

Our bargaining committee unanimously recommends a YES vote. 

Below are questions and answers about a strike over Unfair Labor Practices:

  • Why is our bargaining committee recommending that we vote yes for a strike? Our bargaining committees, made up of over 100 of our co-workers, have been negotiating for new union contracts since November. The companies have refused to agree to many of the same standards that janitors and security officers in other cities already receive.  Instead of bargaining in good faith, in many cases the companies have stalled, proposed to move us backwards, and tried to intimidate our members.  Our elected bargaining committee unanimously recommends a YES vote for a one to two day strike to stop these unfair labor practices.
  • Who decides if we strike?  We are a democratic union.  The first step is the membership must vote to give authorization to our bargaining committee to call a strike.  This membership vote is set for February 9th, see details below.  If the membership votes yes, then the second step is the bargaining committee will decide if and when it is necessary to call a strike, and decide the date.
  • Can I be fired for participating in a strike?  It is our right to strike under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act.  It is illegal for our employer to replace us permanently, fire, or discipline us for participating in a strike over unfair labor practices.
  • What should I do if my manager says we will loose our jobs if we strike or picket?It is illegal for your manager to threaten to fire or discipline you for striking or picketing.  Please report any threats immediately to your steward or the union hall.
  • Our Union contract expired on January 1st.  Are we still protected by the union?  Yes, we are still part of the union.  Even though the contract has expired, by law, all of the wages, benefits and working conditions in our contract must remain the same until the bargaining process is completed.  This means that we cannot be fired or disciplined unjustly.  If your manager tries to cut your hours or change your working conditions, you must report it immediately to your steward or the union hall.
  • Can I be disciplined for talking about the union or the strike?:  No, it is illegal for your manager to discipline you or treat you differently for talking about the union or the strike.  If you are allowed to discuss family matters or sports or the weather at work, then you can discuss the union.
  • Have janitors or security officers struck before?  Yes, Janitors across the country, including Chicago and Houston, struck and won major improvements.  Five years ago in the Twin cities, security officers in the same buildings where we work went on a one day strike and won 50 cent raises.  At the end of these strikes, the workers all came back to work and no one lost their job.
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Security Companies Continue to Stall

       Which one do YOU call “Bargaining?” (please choose one)

 1) A company only offers us 5 dates to negotiate since our contract convention.  They cancel one meeting at the last minute, and come 4 hours late to another one.  They agree to exactly 0 of our proposals.  They tell us that the next date they are available is more than 3 weeks away.

2) A company gives a “new” proposal on 6 issues, but turns out that it is the exact same proposal that the same company gave us over a year ago.

3) A company, on its first day of bargaining, agrees in writing to real improvements on 8 of the issues its employees’ raised.

If you choosed number 3, this is exactly what happened at the negotiations on January 3rd with one company called Block by Block in the security industry in the Twin Cities.  This is what most people would call bargaining in good faith.  Unfortunately, numbers 1 & 2 are what security officers in all of the other companies in the twin cities got as our new year’s “thank you” card!

Security Companies continue to stall.

Hear it from some of the 50 security officers in the room who took the day off to be in negotiations on January 3rd and 4th:

“The security companies are choosing to have an adversarial relationship with us, we have been been here waiting for them since 9:00 AM it is 1:27PM(1-3-2013) as I write this and the companies representatives have still not arrived.At what point will they get serious about bargaining with is, obviously not today. Paul Keith Security officer in Minneapolis

Security officers in the suburbs have not seen raises for years. Downtown officers deserve to move towards more livable wages and a professionalizing of the industry. The companies may not be serious about time spent bargaining, but we are. Kevin Chavis, Security officer in Minneapolis

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When will the security companies get serious?

Local 26 Security Officer Bargaining Update #1

On December 10th, the union security officer negotiation team met with the companies for just the second time since our contract convention last month.  We proposed 6 additional dates to meet.  The companies only agreed to one before the expiration of the current union contract.

 Divide and Conquer

 The companies insisted twice that they do not want to negotiate over the suburbs until we have resolved the downtown officer’s contract.  Suburban officers have been at the bargaining table since last year.  We still have received no written counter proposals for the suburbs since the spring. How long is long enough to wait?

        Security Companies Propose Giant Step Backwards            

  • The security companies did not accept a single one of security officers’ proposals to move our industry forward.  Instead they focused on undermining the protections we have won in the last 5 years downtown.
  • Kicking officers out of the union:The companies proposed to exclude the following types of officers from the union (which means no union protection, no guaranteed wages or benefits):
    • all officers who work in hospitals, schools, or smaller buildings under 100,000 sq ft like bank branches,
    • all officers at accounts that are bid on nationally (this could include your account if the primary tenant has locations in other states)
    • all mobile, patrol and lead officers.
  • Kicking officers off of Full time benefits: the companies proposed that any officer who works between 35 and 39 hours per week would go to PT and lose their current healthcare benefits, vacation accrual, etc.
  • Silencing officers:  
    • by barring them from filing class action wage and hour claims,
    • by barring officers from participating in internet postings, blogs, websites, or emails that are “anti-company”  (whatever that is supposed to mean),
    • by increasing the probation from 90 to 150 days.
  • Eliminating guaranteed raises: companies could force a “wage reopener” in the middle of the contract to change wage rates.
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