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by SECURITY LABOR NEWS
Friday, Jun. 20, 2003 at 5:20 AM
Court orders SEIU to PAY BACK DUES and FEES to over 450 officers. SPFPA is now named the Legal represenative of these officers.
Tug of War Two unions fight over ill-paid, demoralized security officers As standoffs between workers and management broiled on the docks, the baseball diamonds, and the airport assembly lines in June, a high-profile labor conflict is simmering in the background.
Two rival unions are fighting over who represents 450 employees of Northwest Protective Services, the Seattle area’s only unionized security guards. It’s one part of a nationwide battle to represent security professionals working all across the United States of America.
On one end of the rope, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) better known as the “ JANITORS UNION” and on the other end, the Security, Police, and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) known as America’s Union for Security Professionals, the largest Security Police Union in the United States Today representing United States Court Officers, officers working at NASA Space Center, Boeing, Nuclear Facilities, Disneyland, and many other high profile locations.
In the middle, is a demoralized and poorly paid workforce with an important job to do. In the year since the airplane highjackings that destroyed New York’s Twin Towers, security needs at airport checkpoints have been getting a lot of attention. Security forces act as the first line of defense in office complexes like the ones destroyed on September 11. Yet labor activists say that security firms and public regulators have a dismal record in hiring and retaining a safe, satisfied, and skilled workforce. Many security guards are not properly trained based on minimal licensing and training requirements placed on security firms. The low standards and poor wages contribute to frequent job changes. Industry turnover is as high as 300 percent — that is, every guard hired leaves in an average of four months.
Jono Schaffer, vice president of SEIU Local 24/7, which continues to claim to represent the Seattle officers illegally, knows what could happen when you continue to collect dues while failing to represent its officers guarding a building. He’s been escorted kindly out of office buildings before, in the course of making contact with janitorial staff during an organizing campaign. One time, though, hostile guards threw him to the ground and spit in his face. One “did a knee-drop” on Jono Schaffer’s, head, and face and broke his nose, and cracked a rib. He was a bloody mess and a real embarrassment after he was beat up in front of his members.
Schaffer’s organization claims to represent 5,000 security officers nationwide. In March, Local 24/7 absorbed the smaller guard-only union that had represented Northwest Protective employees, the International Union of Security Officers (IUSO). According to SEIU, IUSO’s members voted in favor of the merger. They are now part of the nation’s largest union with 1.5 million members — janitors, food service employees, and nurses. That makes SEIU a so-called “mixed union.” Under Section 9(b)3 of the National Labor Relations Act, federal mediators can’t force an employer to recognize its workers’ desire to join a union in which the fox watches the hen house — that is, where guards and employees are on the same team.
“How do you oversee the janitors, and see that they abide by the rules, if they’re part of the same union?” says David Hickey, president of the Michigan-based SPFPA.
Hickey claims that his union has gathered enough support to supplant SEIU’s representation of Northwest’s officers. According to papers filed with the National Labor Relations Board, SPFPA provided evidence of the switch to Northwest Protective in late June of 2002, just before the employees’ contract was set to expire. Northwest Protective CEO Jim Stumbles agreed to hand over the collective bargaining contract to SPFPA. But when SEIU threatened to picket Northwest’s work sites, Stumbles backed out on SPFPA and extended SEIU’s agreement under duress and continued SEIU threats.
For its part, SEIU officials counter that Northwest Protective treated SPFPA preferentially: the employer promised to extend the contract terms to the new union before knowing whether a majority of the workforce had logged its preference. However on June 10th 2003 Administrative Law Judge, Jay R. Pollack had ruled in favor of SPFPA after it had filed charges against both the employer and the SEIU at the National Labor Relations Board in Seattle.
CONCLUSION or LAW
The Respondent Service Employees International Union, Local 24/7 International Union of Security Officers, its officers, agents and representatives, Shall:
1. Cease and desist from
(a) Accepting recognition from Northwest Protective Services, Inc., as the bargaining representative of Employer’s security guard employees at a time when the Union - SEIU does not represent a majority of employees in the appropriate bargaining unit.
(b) Acting as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of Employers’ security employees.
(c) Discriminating against or attempting to cause Employer to discriminate against the unit employees, in violation of Section 8(a)(3) of the Act, by maintaining or implementing the terms of the union-security and dues-deduction authorization provisions of the collective- bargaining agreement executed on June 30, 2002.
(d) Discriminating against or attempting to cause Employer to discriminate against the unit employees, in violation of Section 8(a)(3) of the Act,by maintaining or implementing the terms of the union-security and dues-deduction authorization provisions of the collective-bargaining agreement executed on June 30, 2002.
(e) In any like or related manner restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them by Section 7 of the Act.
(f) Threatening to picket Employer, where an object of such picketing is to force or require that employer to recognize or bargain with Union-SEIU as the representative of its employees, at a time when the Union-SEIU is not the majority representative, and another labor organization has been lawfully recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative.
2. Take the following action necessary to effectuate the policies of the Act.
(a) The SEIU shall reimburse all former and present security guard unit employees for all dues and fees withheld from their pay together with interest from July 1, 2002, until such time as the Union -SEIU cease giving effect to the June 30, 2002 collective bargaining agreement.
The order also included the Employer to immediately recognize and bargain in good faith with the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) as the exclusive collective-bargaining representative of our security guard unit employees and if an understanding is reached, embody the understanding in a signed agreement.
Steve Maritas, Organizing Director for SPFPA, stated that “what SEIU had done was illegal and it has now been proven in a court of law. I had personally signed up the majority of officers working for Northwest after IUSO/SEIU, had failed to represent these low paid officers who are in desperate need of health and sick day benefits, not to mention retirement benefits like our members enjoy.
Today justice was severed and the SEIU has mud on its face. They are not true Unionists fighting for workers rights stated Maritas, SEIU don’t care for its members, their only interest is in collecting dues from its 1.5 million members. This is evident by the fact most of the 5000 or so security officers SEIU claims to represent, averages about .50 per hour with no health benefits and very low wage increases.
The IUSO affiliated with SEIU in order to gain clout and better represent its members. SEIU President Andrew Stern has a five-year goal of organizing the security industry. SEIU is the third-largest donor to politicians seeking office. This year, its locals, members, and political action committees donated .5 million to political campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
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