Thursday, August 27, 2015

Univ. of Pittsburgh Security Guards Rally for a Contract

Andrea Sears, Public News Service 

Security guards in Pittsburgh demand better pay and training. Credit: SEIU 32BJ
Security guards in Pittsburgh demand better pay and training. Credit: SEIU 32BJ
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - University of Pittsburgh students soon will be headed back to school but campus security guards there say for them it's back to poverty.

At less than $9 an hour, security guards at the university are among the lowest paid in the city. This morning, dozens of guards and their supporters held a march and rally on the campus calling for a fair contract.

According to Sam Williamson, Western Pennsylvania Area leader for SEIU 32BJ, the Service Employees International Union, the current situation isn't just bad for workers.

"These workers across the city are paid poverty wages and receive virtually no training, and that creates a dangerous situation for themselves and for people in the buildings that they're paid to protect," says Williamson.

Last April, security officers across the city started bargaining for their first-ever contract and some firms have reached tentative deals, including better pay and benefits.

Williamson says the guards would eventually like to see their pay rise to $15 an hour, but better training is important now. The city of Pittsburgh recently passed a law requiring uniform, high- quality training for contract security officers in the city.

"Part of the security officers demands is that these firms work with them to comply with that law and ensure that they actually get the training that they need and they have been calling for for quite a long time," says Williamson.

A spokesperson for U.S. Security Associates, the firm employing the guards at the university, says they actively are negotiating with the union and look forward to an agreement that benefits both the workers and the company.

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