Security Officers

Reporter Wins Media Award for Coverage of Local 26 Security Officers’ Strike

At the first annual Minnesota Ethnic and Community Media Awards last week, a reporter won top honors in the Community Services division for her three-part series in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder that covered the contract battle and groundbreaking one-day strike waged by SEIU Local 26 security officers in Minneapolis in early 2008.

Reporter Lauretta Dawalo Towns’ winning news coverage tells the behind-the-scenes story of the Twin Cities security guards who held a one-day strike–the first-ever of its kind in the Twin Cities–against the largest security contractors in the area: ABM, Allied Barton, American, Securitas, and Viking.

The guards were prompted to strike by the continued failure of the security contractors to address the healthcare crisis facing 98 percent of private security officers in the Twin Cities who could not afford the family health insurance offered by their employer, which cost as much as $836 per month. Hard-working guards like Renita Whicker stood with their colleagues, because a parent shouldn’t have to choose between paying the rent or taking their children to the doctor.

After working without a contract for four months, an April bargaining agreement was reached by the security officers in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. The new contract was a huge victory for more than just the 800 guards who gained access to affordable health insurance, paid sick leave, higher wages, and improved training and equipment–it was also viewed as a major step towards paving the way for similar gains by other workers in Minnesota and helping to restore Minnesota’s middle class.

“This [fight was] about protecting working families and protecting people who live, work, and play in our city’s downtown,” said SEIU member Harrison Bullard, who is a security officer at the Hennepin County Government Center. “People who come downtown want strong, healthy, and well-trained security officers to provide protection for them.

The guards received notable support from the surrounding communities throughout their long contract battle for better wages and benefits. City council members, Twin Cities mayors, state representatives, political candidates and even clergy from interfaith coalitions all rallied resounding support for the officers.

“It wasn’t an easy-won fight,” commented SEIU Local 26 member and Securitas guard Darrell Siewart. “But as most people know, quality health care coverage is more than worth fighting for — it’s essential.”

Read the award-winning Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder articles on the SEIU Local 26 security guards:

>> “Security officers strike for a living wage — and respect“, 3/2/2008

>> “Twin Cities security officers enjoy the fruits of their organizing labor,” 6/1/2008

The Ethnic and Community Media Awards are intended to lend greater visibility and recognition to the important journalism produced by grassroots media in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. They are sponsored by the Twin Cities Media Alliance, a group that works to bring together media professionals and engaged citizens to improve the quality, accountability and diversity of the local media.

Through SEIU’s “Stand for Security Campaign,” SEIU Local 26 security officers joined thousands of private security officers in cities from Boston to D.C. to Los Angeles in an historic effort to win affordable individual and family healthcare, wage increases, paid sick days, and increased training so that security officers have a chance to rise up the career ladder, earn enough to raise a family, and move into the middle class.

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A Safer America

As front-line security officers, we understand how dangerous the world can be. Today Americans are highly concerned about their personal safety–and rightly so. Our worries concerning safety cross the spectrum — from minor accidents, to petty theft, to violent crime, to major emergencies or even terrorism.

Good Jobs for our Communities

Security officers are standing up for jobs that will allow us to work hard for decent housing, quality healthcare, adequate nutrition, access to education, and a dignified retirement. Good jobs will enable us to not only sustain our families, but also to spend time with our children and raise them according to our values. Good jobs will also help us sustain our communities by leaving us with more time to volunteer and more money to spend in local businesses and to pay taxes to support local hospitals, schools, police and fire departments.


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Security Officers and Window Cleaners Kick Off 2007 Contract Campaign

On Saturday, November 10th, over 130 Security Officers, Window Cleaners, and
community supporters packed into a union meeting to kick off our 2007 Contract
Campaign. The Security Officers and Window Cleaners of our union, SEIU Local 26, elected their
bargaining teams and voted unanimously to ratify their contract goals for
upcoming negotiations.

Our security officers’ bargaining team will represent officers from contractors
in both Minneapolis / St. Paul and the suburbs, including: ABM, Allied
, American, Avalon, Securitas,
and Viking. The window cleaners’ bargaining team will represent cleaners from contractors Columbia, Marsden, and MSI. We come to the
bargaining table in a spirit of collaborative problem-solving to seek win-win
solutions to workplace issues. As always, providing quality service is a
paramount concern to all parties.

Our contract goals reflect national standards for all
property service workers to raise standards in our industry. Twin Cities
officers now join thousands of security officers in San
Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Washington, DC
in bargaining for these standards across the country, and janitors here in the
Twin Cities made significant progress towards them last year. They include:

Healthcare for Ourselves and Our Families

Income that Can
Support our Families

Improved Training
and Safety

Achieving these goals will be a win-win result for all
involved by helping to reduce turnover and increase the quality of service as a
result, leading to greater tenant satisfaction.

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Stand Against Racial Discrimination: A Public Letter on Hannon Security

A broad coalition of security officers, religious leaders and community
groups have come together to strongly oppose Hannon’s irresponsible
practices in a public letter that is available here.

Hannon public letter Hannon public letter

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Officers Charge Hannon Security With Racial Discrimination

On Monday, October 1st, security officers filed a formal complaint with the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that Hannon Security engages in racial discrimination in their hiring practices, job placement, and training.

In the past several months, white applicants with no security experience have been hired over applicants of color with significant security experience. In other cases, less qualified white applicants have been assigned to higher paying accounts and/or preferential shifts.

Officers of color with over a decade of experience at Hannon report that they regularly train new white officers with little or no security experience to work in higher paying accounts.

This charge follows a pattern of behavior at Hannon Security that goes back several years. A 2003 lawsuit alleged that officers of color were regularly transferred or moved from certain buildings on days when the owners of those buildings had meetings.

Nearly 60% of another local security company’s officers are minorities, according to their officers, and another security company employs almost 100 Somali officers locally.

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Twin Cities Security Officers Union Moves Forward While Hannon Holds Officers Back

Last year, private security officers in the Twin Cities signed a contract that sets a new market standard for equipment and training, affordable health care, and professional pay.

Every major private security contractor in the Twin Cities region has recognized that union standard … EXCEPT ONE.

Hannon Security undercuts the market standard and has a troubling record when it comes to respect for their employees.

Hannon is the subject of a nearly TWO-YEAR ongoing federal investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for racial discrimination.

  • Officers filed charges against Hannon with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging racial discrimination in hiring and training
  • The charges also alleged that white applicants with no security experience were hired over applicants of color with years of security experience, and less qualified white applicants were assigned to higher paying positions and/or preferential shifts.
  • Hannon management has been reported as telling their officers that they do not hire Somali security officers: “we don’t take want to hire any of ‘their kind.’”

Alvin Bouye

Hannon Officer

“Hannon has had me train numerous white officers who have then moved on to better paying jobs. My wages and raises have not been commensurate with that action, and I have not been offered the same opportunities despite my experience.”

Since these charges were filed, several former Hannon clients have ended their business relationship with the company.



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Setting a New Standard for Security Officers

Barbara Sadt

“I can now go to work every day knowing I am making a living wage and can supply healthcare to my family. And that I now have a terrific support system at my site for whatever difficulties may or may not come my way. This is a very secure feeling in today’s world.” – Barbara Sadt

Since security officers won a new contract last year with gauranteed pay raises and affordable healthcare, we’ve kept on organizing. Officers at the Minneapolis Impound Lot who worked for Twin Cities Security recieved pay raises of two dollars per hour or more  and now have healthcare for the first time ever. In addition, numerous of Avalon Fortress Security’s clients have decided to use responsible contractors, including the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis Waterworks and sports teams like the Vikings and the Gophers.

Our Campaign Continues in the Suburbs!
Security officers who work for the union companies in the suburbs have been organizing for years to win the same standards that Barbara Sadt and her co-workers at the Minneapolis Impound Lot just won. Join us at our member meeting on Saturday, May 9th to talk about our next steps to win in the suburbs. Registration begins at 10:30am.

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Security Officers Win Historic Contract!

In a groundbreaking victory in their second-ever contract,
Security Officer members of SEIU Local 26 in Minneapolis and Saint Paul won
access to affordable health insurance, higher wages, improved training and
equipment, and sick leave in a tentative contract agreement reached
late last night with their employers.

“I have four kids without health insurance, so this contract
will make all the difference for my family,” said Howard Worley, a security
officer at Town Square
in Saint Paul
and a member of the union bargaining committee. “Now we need to keep it going
and win affordable health care for everyone who stood with us and for all
working families in Minnesota.”

The five-year agreement, which will be put to a ratification
vote on Saturday with a recommendation by the bargaining team for approval,
includes the following improvements:

  • Affordable health care
    for full-time security officers for the first time ever.
o Single Coverage
reduced to $20 per month.
The employer’s premium contribution for single
coverage will increase from as little as 57% now to 96% by the end of the
contract, while the monthly cost to employees will drop from as much as $190
per month now to $60 per month immediately and $20 per month by the end of the
o Family Coverage
reduced to $260 per month.
The employer’s premium contribution for family
coverage will increase from as little as 20% now to 65% by the end of the
contract, while the cost to employees to cover themselves and their children will
drop by as much as $570 per month and will be capped at $260 per month for the
duration of the contract.
  • Major wage increases
    of 25% – 32%.
    Wages will
    increase by at least 50 cents in each year, with some officers seeing increases
    of up to $3.20 over the course of the contract.
  • A process for building
    stronger training and equipment standards to improve public safety in Minneapolis and Saint
    Officers at Block E in downtown Minneapolis have already been fitted for
    bullet-proof vests as a result of heightened public awareness due to security
    officers’ efforts.
  • Sick days that will
    allow full-time security officers to access the health care they need to stay
    healthy at work.

The tentative bargaining agreement with security
contractors ABM, Allied Barton, American, Securitas, and Viking
comes after officers held a one-day strike in February highlighting
the need for affordable health care for all Minnesotans.

“This victory for security officers is a major step forward
in restoring Minnesota’s
middle class,” said Javier Morillo,
president of SEIU Local 26. “Now, working families in the Twin Cities are
prepared to keep up the fight to show what can and should be done to ensure
everyone in our state has access to quality, affordable health care.”

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