By Denis Johnston
32BJ Vice President and Director of Security Division
2015 is already off to a great start. We are going to do great things this year as we get ready to negotiate a new City-wide Master Security Contract in 2016.
As 32BJ celebrates its 80th anniversary, we are the newest and fastest-growing division of this great union. Ten years ago, with security officers making $8 an hour without benefits, you couldn’t call security a profession. Since then we have fought for better standards, quality health care, professionalism and training. Today we are 10,000 members strong in New York and 20,000 strong union-wide. And we are growing every day.
Just last month security officers at Long Island University finally won union recognition from their employer. During the four years it took them to win, LIU security officers lost coworkers to health issues, but now the whole shop will have quality 100% employer family health coverage.
The newest members of 32BJ are nearly 100 security officers at NBC studios in Rockefeller Center right in the heart of one of the biggest commercial districts in the country. These officers organized and fought hard to win the union. These are just two examples of strong organizing work we’re doing in our division, helping security officers around the city– and around the country– fight for better lives. Last year alone we organized 3,000 new members in 6 cities up and down the East Coast!
We’ve been fighting and winning, but in New York you can go to 10 different buildings and find security officers with 10 different wage rates and benefits packages. In 2016, we’ll fight for a contract that sets one standard for good security jobs across New York with the fair pay and quality benefits that security officers deserve.
This is why 200 members and leaders in our New York Security Division met last Saturday. We know that if we are serious about taking on the challenge to fight for and win one contract for all security officers, this contract will raise the bar for security officers everywhere. To do this we must prepare for a powerful member-led campaign like we have never run before. A campaign that is visible in our buildings and in our communities. A campaign that the press, politicians and community leaders will talk about and support. A campaign that recognizes the 32BJ security officers who keep the financial capital of the world safe and secure.
We will focus our on building knowledgeable contract-interpretation teams so that multiple member leaders can defend our rights and address daily concerns at work. These teams will combine their contract knowledge and co-worker organizing skills to make employers think twice about violating our rights and agreements.
Finally, we will make a deep investment of time and resources to form the smartest city-wide strategic team of security officers that recognizes the voice and knowledge of our members. Together, we will make sure that 32BJ leaders become the experts on further professionalizing the security industry. Security Officers do the job every day, understand the demands and, as a powerful union of security officers, we understand how to campaign and WIN.
2015 is our preparation year to a great victory. Each of us is already part of the largest and strongest union of security officers in America. We had achieved this through our 32BJ vision, focus, discipline and determination to lift workers into the middle class and professionalize industries that no one thought was possible. Now, as a Security Division, it’s our turn to come of age and we will be ready by year’s end to have fight that wins a great baseline standard for all security officers, the same way the cleaners and residential members of 32BJ did before us. We will be ready for 2016 and I look forward to achieving this victory with you.