Washington, D.C. – Negotiations for a new union contract covering 3,000 private security officers who protect the vast majority of commercial office buildings in Washington, D.C. begin today between 32BJ SEIU and private security contractors. 32BJ, the nation’s largest union of security officers, will present its contract proposals to representatives of contractors including, Admiral, Allied Barton and Securitas.
“The men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe deserve fair wages to help them and their families survive in one of the nation’s most expensive cities,” said Jaime Contreras, 32BJ SEIU Vice President. “Contractors in such a strong market can afford to invest in security officers so they can in turn, better support D.C.’s most underserved communities where they reside.”
While District officers safeguard buildings in one of the nation’s strongest and most profitable commercial real estate markets, they struggle to pay for the nation’s most expensive for child care and housing. Commercial office vacancy rates are lower than average and have asking rents far higher than most markets. Security officers, who are overwhelmingly men and women of color, are increasingly unable to afford to live in the city where they work.
“I’m proud to be on the front-lines helping to keep our city safe, but I need to be able to protect my own family financially,” said Kimberly White, a downtown security officer. “I am always there for the tenants, so it’s only fair that I earn enough to live near my job.”
Under the current contract that expires on April 15, 2016, most 32BJ security officers earn $14.99 per hour. Full-time officers receive employer-paid health care and 401K, and part-time officers and their families receive employer-paid ancillary benefits for dental, vision, and life insurance.
Prior to officers’ first-ever union contract signed in April, 2008, officers were paid as little as $8.24/hr and most lacked health care and other benefits.
Among high profile commercial office buildings officers protect are Gallery Place, the Watergate Offices, the National Press Building, the National Geographic Building, International Square and NPR Headquarters.
With more than 145,000 members in nine states, including 17,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area and Baltimore, MD 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.