Newark, NJ—The private security industry in New Jersey is profitable and growing, yet the security officers who protect vital infrastructure in the state, including commercial and corporate office buildings; courthouses; federal sites; and airports, are often paid low wages with no meaningful benefits.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker today threw his support behind the effort of private security officers in the city and the state to raise standards. He unveiled a white paper, Raising Standards, Improving Communities: New Jersey’s Security Officers Uniting for Good Jobs and a Brighter Future, that describes the state of the private security industry in New Jersey and outlines steps to raise standards for training, wages and benefits. 32BJ SEIU produced Raising Standards, Improving Communities.
“Average wages for private security officers in New Jersey are far below what it takes to sustain a family in the state,” the report said. “Raising pay would not only bring full-time workers and their families out of poverty, it would have a multiplier effect of millions of dollars that would strengthen communities.”
Booker was joined at the event by Newark City Councilmember Ron Rice; 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa, 32BJ SEIU New Jersey Area Director Kevin Brown; and security officers from Newark and across the state. 32BJ SEIU represents15,000 security officers up and down the east coast. The steps outlined in Raising Standards, Improving Communities could add up to much needed spark that struggling New Jersey communities like Newark need for economic growth, Booker said.
“We ask private security officers to regularly put life and limb on the line to protect the public,” Booker told an audience at the Newark City Hall Rotunda. “Their jobs are vital. They should not have to rely on public assistance programs to support their families.”
Equipping security officers with better training, affordable benefits and wages will not only reduce turnover and create a more stable workforce; it will also boost the economy of the communities where the officers work and live because security officers will be able to spend more of their income on necessities, said Figueroa.
Andre Lugo of Newark has not received a raise in four years and does not have affordable health care, or employer-paid sick days. He is working hard with fellow officers to raise standards at his building, the Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s Newark building.
“I do this because I love being a security officer, I love helping people,” he said. “It is a good job but it should pay better and we should have better benefits.”
With more than 125,000 members, including 15,000 private security officers, 32BJ is the largest security officers union in the country.
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