by Jaime Contreras
32BJ Vice President and Capital Area District Director
Since September of 2014, 32BJ has been negotiating with major security contractors for a first-ever union contract covering 500 private security officers who protect Baltimore residents, businesses, universities, hospitals, and public institutions.
As we celebrate Martin Ling King Jr.’s birthday, our struggles today are a painful reminder that we haven’t yet achieved his Dream. No one can survive on an officer’s wage of as little as $9 an hour without meaningful benefits. We all deserve jobs that allow us to support our families and our communities with dignity.
King’s Dream could become a reality for Baltimore officers if their employers followed a Baltimore City Council resolution that supports officers’ efforts “to negotiate for family-sustaining wages, access to quality health care, and a healthy working environment.”
That’s why we held a candlelight vigil across from City Hall with Baltimore security officers, local clergy and elected leaders to call on contractors to provide officers the opportunity to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.
Just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. supported sanitation workers in Memphis, security officers in Baltimore are united in a fight for economic justice for their own families and communities.
In Baltimore, the poor are more segregated than they are in most other large cities. Officers all over this city need more livable wages and benefits that are critical to lifting their families out of poverty.
We are asking security contractors in Baltimore to create livable jobs that are critical to the survival of our struggling communities and our city’s economic recovery.
Jobs that provide family-sustaining wages and quality affordable health care to keeps workers and their families out of poverty and off costly public programs paid for by taxpayer dollars.
These officers are united in an effort to help raise standards in the security industry and for the men and women here who work hard to keep Baltimore safe.
If we stay united, we can help to raise industry and job standards just like 15,000 officers did in Washington, DC, New York, Boston, New Jersey, and Philadelphia.