I've been in the security field on and off for five years and have seen a lot of things.
From what I've seen, there has been little motivation to remain working in this field. I've stayed for the same reason most of my co-workers have; I needed to make some kind of a living. My posts have always paid pretty well, but that wasn't and isn't the case for many of my co-workers.
The average starting wage for a security officer at a high rise office building is less than $8 an hour, below the poverty live for a family of four. Few of the officers can afford the health plans offered by their employers.
When I was approached with the idea of helping myself and other security officers to form a union I was skeptical. I believed that if your job was in the manufacturing and agricultural field you needed the union, and had always thought it wasn't an option for me. After visiting SEIU Local 1877, I learned that the owners of the high rises we work for have the resources to pay better wages and provide better benefits, but they just won't do it.
That doesn't sit right with me.
I'm fighting for all the security officers who feel that they cannot afford to be seen fighting. Although it?s against the law, I could lose my job for organizing my co-workers to start our union. Nevertheless, I feel there is more to gain by my decision to support the Security Officers Campaign with SEIU.
I was raised on the belief that if you are not a part of the solution you are a part of the problem. Standing by and watching my friends and co-works "go without" isn't what I can stand to do any longer. I'm for the union because the union gives us a voice that we as security officers have never had and won't ever have.
SEIU can help us create careers for ourselves and have a level of job security that's not available.
It is time to fight for what we believe in, fight for ourselves, and stop standing on the sidelines. It is time to be a part of the solution, and the solution is organizing our union with SEIU.
Focusing new attention on this fast-growing industry where nine in 10 workers are African-American or Latino, on Wednesday, December 10th at 10 am, security officers throughout Los Angeles along with Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, the LA City Council, church leaders and students will be joining security officers and their families downtown in a ?March For Justice? demanding better wages, benefits, proper training and the respect we deserve.
If you want to get involved in the campaign to form a security officers' union, call 213-673-2269 or go to http://www.seiu1877.org.
Glorita La Coste-Hines:
Glorita La Coste-Hines is a security officer with American Commercial Security Services (ACSS). She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.