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Governor Joins Security Guards’ Rallying for Better Wages

Security officers in Pittsburgh are negotiating with 14 companies for a new contract. (32BJ SEIU)
Security officers in Pittsburgh are negotiating with 14 companies for a new contract. (32BJ SEIU)
September 13, 2018

PITTSBURGH – Gov. Tom Wolf is standing with security officers in Pittsburgh Thursday as they rally for $15 an hour in their next contract.

Just a little more than three years ago, security officers in the city were paid as little as $7.50 an hour.

But more than 1,000 joined Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ and won a contract that has raised their pay to $12 an hour or more with additional benefits such as employer-paid health insurance and paid holidays.

According to Sam Williamson, the Western Pennsylvania District director for the union, Wolf's presence at the rally this afternoon sends an important message.

"The governor made it clear that he supports the right of workers to organize, he supports the labor movement and supports workers who are fighting for $15-an-hour wages," Williamson states.

Williamson says the workers also are being supported in their negotiations by other public officials including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and State Rep. Ed Gainey, D-Lincoln-Lemington.

Rene Randolph, a security officer and member of the union, says the contract three years ago helped a lot, but there is still more to do to get to a real, living wage.

"I've been here for 13 years and we're trying to negotiate for better wages, better health care,” she states. “You know, we're trying to make it more of a career than just a job."

Randolph hopes that raising wages will make it possible for her to retire with a sense of security someday.

Williamson points out that the minimum wage in Pennsylvania is still just $7.25 an hour. And airport workers in Philadelphia and security officers in Pittsburgh, among others, workers are still struggling to make ends meet.

"There are way too many workers across the state who work hard and still earn poverty wages,” Williamson points out. “And the way to resolve that is by workers standing together to fight for better benefits and better wages through the collective bargaining process."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA