Angry over stalled contract negotiations, Pittsburgh security officers take to the streets
Pittsburgh – With contract negotiations stalled, dozens of security officers in uniform lined up outside the K & L Gates building this morning to rally for a fair contract. Joining them in solidarity were office cleaners and allies. More than a thousand hardworking security guards are making history in the city as they fight for their first-ever union contract.
“I’m proud to be a young woman taking part in this historic bargaining. I’m angry about the little money and lack of benefits that we’re being offered from the companies where we work. It’s as if the companies don’t appreciate what we do on a daily basis protecting the tenants of this city, providing a safe and secure environment,” said Jenae Davis, a security officer.
The officers have been in negotiations for three months with very little movement from the companies to help raise the wage of these low-wage workers and help pull them out of poverty. Many of the guards live paycheck to paycheck and have no meaningful benefits.
Following the rally, the protesters marched to the Trinity Cathedral to demonstrate outside where bargaining is taking place. The security officers protect many of the City’s most iconic buildings like the University of Pittsburgh, PPG Place and BNY Mellon Center and earn less than $9 an hour with no meaningful benefits to support their families.
“The job that we do is critical. The people we protect inside these buildings – our tenants – they feel secure knowing we are there to protect them. We are the frontline for anyone wanting access to these buildings, said Catherine Ragin, a security officer. “Show us our worth by paying us our worth.”
The rally comes days after a historic week for low-wage workers in New York. The New York Wage Board recommended a $15 minimum wage for fast food workers and New York City airport workers won a major victory to unionize.
“These companies have an opportunity to make these good jobs, help strengthen families, and uplift communities. A movement is sweeping across the nation calling for $15 and a union. We’re appealing to these security companies to help these workers who protect this great city get what they deserve, so we can make the Steel City stronger,” said Sam Williamson, Western Pennsylvania District Director, 32BJ SEIU.
With 145,000 members in eleven states and Washington, D.C., including 22,000 in Pennsylvania, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.