DC commercial security officers – members of 32BJ SEIU -- have ratified a new four-year agreement with the city’s largest security contractors, covering nearly 3,000 commercial security officers. The contract includes fair wage increases and maintains benefits at their current level, according to the union.
“I’m happy about this contract because it will help us a lot with our everyday living and medical expenses, especially for people with big families,” said Bruce Barfield, a security officer protecting the National Geographic Society building and 32BJ SEIU bargaining committee member. “It helps us get more respect and allows us to better support the communities where we live.”
photo: April 4 SEIU 32BJ security guard demo; photo by Chris Garlock/Union City
By the end of the new contract, most 32BJ security officers will earn at least $17.54 an hour. The agreement also maintains current employer-paid healthcare, improves working conditions and job protections, and provides an increase in retirement benefits.
“With security concerns growing in the District, it’s more important than ever that security officers earn a living wage to ensure that the security industry is professional and prepared to handle emergencies,” said Jaime Contreras, Vice President of 32BJ SEIU. “This contract is a win for the entire city by helping the men and women who secure the nation’s capital better support their families and their communities.”
The victory for security officers is part of a wave of recent efforts to improve the lives of D.C’s low-wage workers including a $15 an hour minimum wage slated to appear on the November ballot, paid family leave which is under consideration by Council, and a pending bill in Council to grant full-time hours to thousands of low-wage janitors.
District security officers safeguard buildings in one of the nation's strongest and most profitable commercial real estate markets. Among high profile commercial office buildings officers protect are Gallery Place, the Watergate Offices, the National Press Building, the National Geographic Building, International Square and NPR Headquarters.
While contract negotiations lasted for several months, security officers received an outpouring of support from tenants, community leaders and elected officials.
32BJ SEIU represents over 4,000 security officers in the District and Baltimore. Tens of thousands of 32BJ SEIU security officers up and down the East Coast will negotiate contracts in 2016-2017 to raise wages and standards of their industry. More than 12,000 NYC security officers are currently negotiating a contract that expires on April 30 and 2,500 Philadelphia security officers will be bargaining for a new contract this summer.
With more than 155,000 members in nine states, including 17,000 in the D.C. Metropolitan Area and Baltimore, MD 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country
photo: celebrating the contract settlement; photo courtesy SEIU 32BJ