Striking security guards rally downtown
September 24, 2007 11:30 PM
Marching two by two along California Street and chanting, “If we don’t get no contract, you don’t get no peace,” over 80 security workers gathered in the Financial District to protest their contract dispute with several private security firms.
Organized by the Service Employees International Union, the workers started the rally banging drums, cymbals and blowing whistles outside the building at One Front St, waving signs that read “Security, No Servitude” and “Justice Is Worth Fighting For.”
The strike was the first of its kind among private security companies in the history of San Francisco, according to the Service Employees International Union.
The workers have been without a contract since June 30. The workers are contracted by private security firms like ABC Security, AlliedBarton, Cypress Security, OSP Security, ProTech and Securitas. The workers want a higher salary and increased benefits, including health coverage.
Many of the workers have no health coverage at all.
After the rally, in which both San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano and State Assemblyman Sandre Swanson promised their support, the workers started a march through the downtown streets.
When the march turned onto Mission St from Beale St, police officers forced the workers onto the sidewalk and out of the traffic.
“There’s so much wrong with the job and it would take so little to improve,” said Regina Roberts, a security worker for Securitas.
Roberts has worked for Securitas for two months and makes $12 per hour. She lives in Richmond and is thankful that her children are grown up.
“I could not raise children on my salary,” she said.
Many of the workers receive one day of training for their jobs, said Irene Florez, part of the communications staff at the Service Employees International Union.
Roberts said she was lucky to have a week of training but not in the building at One Front St, where she works.
“If something were to happen, I would not know what to do,” she said.
Since the contract expired, the few workers who had health care coverage have been working without it. Randy Smith, a supervisor for ProTech Security who works at the Israeli consulate, was fortunate to have medical care from Kaiser.
“We’re probably the only ones,” said Smith.
He has worked for ProTech for 18 months and makes $14.25 per hour as a supervisor.
The strike attracted lots of spectators including Joey Bronk, a culinary arts major at San Francisco City College. Bronk came to witness the rally as part of his Labor Studies class.
“I think it’s great,” he said of the strike. “This needs to be done. These are the first responders in these buildings to the scene.”
The rallies and protests will continue until a contract agreement in reached.
“We’d like to be heard,” said Roberts. “We want to be treated as people.”
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