Philadelphia, PA – A new report released today details how raising wage and benefit standards for more than 3,000 private security officers in Philadelphia could pump $230 million into the local economy and improve public safety. The report, Securing Our Future: Security Officers Standing Up for Good Jobs and a Better Philadelphia which will be presented at a City Council hearing on Monday, May 21st also shows adequate pay keeps more experienced security officers on the job and better enables officers to respond to – and help prevent – emergency situations.
“This report provides important evidence illustrating how raising standards for the men and women who keep us safe is a critical matter of public safety,” said Mark Price, PhD, Labor Economist, Keystone Research Center. “Paying livable wages and benefits is not just a matter of fairness and a responsible business practice, but it saves taxpayers millions of dollars with a rare opportunity to boost our economy.”
The 32BJ SEIU report, based on extensive worker surveys and data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau 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 provide $140 million for Philadelphia’s security officers and their families over the next decade, potentially generating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for the city.
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 paper illustrates how just compensation translates into reduced turnover and improved training. For example, in New York City buildings where security officers are union and earn more than their union counterparts have significantly less turnover than buildings with non-union security officers.
As the largest union of security officers, 32BJ SEIU has raised the industry’s wage, benefit and training standards in New York and Washington, DC. With more than 120,000 members, including 10,000 in the Philadelphia area, 32BJ is the largest property services union in the country.