Newark, NJ –Private security officers in New Jersey have won a historic, 3.5 year industry-wide contract improving wages and benefits for over 1,200 security officers who protect commercial office buildings in Essex, Hudson and Union Counties, including the cities of Newark and Jersey City. The first-ever union contract between New Jersey’s top private security contractors and 32BJ of Service Employees International Union is the result of one of the largest unionization drives occurring in New Jersey in recent memory. The contract will be effective in April and is expected to be ratified by the workers on April 12. Most officers will see a minimum wage increase from $9 to $11 over the life of the contract and all security officers will receive nearly two dollars an hour in raises by the end of the contract.
For the first time, all full-time officers will receive employer-paid health care starting on January 1st, 2015 and paid vacation.
“This contract is a smart investment in our economy and ensures that one of the state’s largest and growing service industries creates better jobs for our communities,” said Kevin Brown, 32BJ SEIU New Jersey Director. “Across the nation, low-wage service workers, like those working at airports for poverty wages, are fighting for family-sustaining jobs. But today, the men and women who keep hundreds of buildings in New Jersey safe are setting an example for other industries to follow.
Negotiations for the contract covering over 1,200 private security officers started in November 2013. 32BJ SEIU, the nation’s largest union of security officers, presented contract proposals that aim to improve standards for one of New Jersey’s largest and fastest-growing service industries.
“This contract is more than a bigger paycheck to help us make a better life for our families. It gives us hope and respect,” said Roshida Dixon, a security officer and mother of two young children. “Now that we’ll get benefits, I can finally afford to buy medicine when I get sick.”
Achieving employer-paid health care means officers will no longer have to rely on taxpayer-subsidized programs for care or go without care. The increase in pay and benefits is projected to generate millions of dollars in new economic activity for impoverished neighborhoods in Essex, Hudson and Union Counties.
“The vast majority of security officers, many of them Newarkers, are making history by taking the first step to stem tide of dead-end jobs in their communities,” said Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka “Our brothers and sisters care not only about improving their jobs, but also about improving their lives and their communities. This is a new day for thousands of workers who have gotten the short-end of the stick for too long.”
The unionization of more than 1,200 security officers amounts to the largest private-sector organizing win in New Jersey in a decade. The victory is particularly significant considering the growth in this industry. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that from 2008 to 2018, the overall number of jobs in private security will grow by 10 percent, outpacing the average growth for all other occupations.
As the largest union of security officers, 32BJ SEIU has raised the industry’s wage, benefit and training standards in New Jersey, New York, Washington, D.C. Philadelphia and Boston. With more than 145,000 members in 11 states, including nearly 10,000 in the New Jersey, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property services union in the country.