“If we don’t get no health care, they don’t get no peace,” was the rallying cry November 29 as Los Angeles’ newly formed security officers union gathered together on 5th and Flower streets downtown. Besides elected officials and clergymen, the Writers Guild of America currently on strike, rallied with the officers last Thursday. They are prepared to strike, they said, if they can’t get liveable wages and family healthcare via what will be their first ever union contract.
“Right now is the time for justice. Right now is the time for a contract that respects the humanity of the hard workers who guard the buildings, who insure the safety of their occupants,” said Reverend Lewis Logan of Bethel AME Church who had just returned from India to join the officers at the rally.
“I come to tell you all the way from Shanai that your Indian brothers and sisters... I handed out fliers with your pictures on it. I handed out brochures with your likenesses all the way on the other side of the world. They stand with you in solidarity because they want you to have what they are longing for right now.
“I saw with my own two eyes (in India) the haves and the have nots, the tremendous chasm between those who have the means and modes of production, the prospects of wealth and those who do not. There are two classes according to what I was able to see. We’re not going to let that happen in this country. We’re not going to have the rich and the poor.
“We are going to have a middle class. We’re going to protect the right to have a middle class.”
Currently security officers in Los Angeles County earn about $24,000 a year—about $6 an hour less than union janitors—and have no affordable healthcare, according to representatives from Security Officers Union Los Angeles.
“Janitors, window cleaners, parking attendants and building operating engineers in the same buildings earn decent wages and full family healthcare, creating a double standard where only security officers are being left behind. Nearly 70 percent of Los Angeles security officers are African American and live in South Los Angeles” they said.
“If building owners would agree to pay security workers what union janitors under the same roof earn, it would bring hundreds of millions of dollars every year back into some of the most impoverished, crime-ridden communities of our state—where most security officers live.”
Previously, security officers had been strongly discouraged from forming a union by threats of losing their jobs. But without a union, they really had no recourse when asking for fair wages and decent, affordable healthcare. Many held the theory that it was a matter of discrimination stemming from the fact that a majority of the security officers in L.A. county are African American.
Now, members of the union have garnered support from a variety of sources, who will join them in putting pressure on “theDouglas Emmett Realty Advisors, GE/Arden Realty, and some of the wealthiest real estate corporations in the state to stop the separate and unequal treatment of California’s security officers.”