Philadelphia, PA –– A new City Council resolution calls on one of Philadelphia’s largest and growing service industries to raise wage and benefit standards for more than 3,000 private security officers. The Council heard testimony today from Congressman Bob Brady (D-PA), State Representative Kenyatta Johnson, Widener University Professor Stu Eimer, security officers, and leaders from POWER (Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild).
“Improving pay for thousands of security officers is critical to preparing officers to better handle emergencies and support their communities,” said State Representative Johnson. “Companies that have the capacity to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into Philadelphia’s economy must use this opportunity to create more family-sustaining jobs and help get our city back on track.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2008 to 2018, the number of jobs in the security industry will grow by 10 percent, outpacing the average growth for all other occupations. Already in Philadelphia, private security firms are among the largest service industry employers. But median wages in the security industry lag behind those of other industries, including maintenance workers, cleaners and drivers.
The median hourly wage for officers, who protect commercial office buildings, hospitals, government offices and universities is just $10, with some reporting earning as little as $8 an hour. Few have benefits that include quality health care or paid sick or vacation days.
The resolution authorizes the Council to hold public hearings on industry practices for private security officers in the city “concerning their right to join labor unions and organize for improved terms and working conditions.”
A new report, Securing Our Future: Security Officers Standing Up for Good Jobs and a Better Philadelphia, https://seiu32bj.org/au/SecuringOurFuture.pdf lays out some of the best industry practices The 32BJ SEIU report, based on extensive worker surveys and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau, also shows adequate pay keeps more experienced security officers on the job and better enables officers to respond to – and help prevent – emergency situations. The paper illustrates how just compensation translates into reduced turnover and improved training.
The report found that increasing pay to help the average security officer with two children would mean their families would no longer qualify for food stamps. This would mean $140 million for Philadelphia’s security officers and their families over the next decade; potentially generating upwards of $231 million dollars in economic activity for Philadelphia’s neighborhoods.