Malcolm Rashad

Malcolm RashadMalcolm Rashad has worked as a security officer for a company called Securatex for a year and a half. He currently works full-time protecting a Fresenius dialysis center on Chicago’s south side.

Malcolm works hard and puts himself at risk to keep the patients at Fresenius safe, yet he is paid just $8.75 an hour and doesn’t have access to affordable health insurance himself.

According to a recent survey of Securatex officers, Malcolm is not alone. A full third of officers who responded report that they rely on public assistance for health care. Effectively, taxpayers are subsidizing these poverty-wage jobs.

Malcolm can’t afford a place of his own on his Securatex wages, so he lives with his parents. He wants to go back to school, but he can’t afford that either. Malcolm’s situation is a sad example of how poverty-wage jobs trap hard-working people and their families in a cycle of poverty.

In addition to low wages, Malcolm and his coworkers have to struggle to compensate for chronic understaffing and near-constant turnover. Malcolm is often forced to work 13 to 16 hours at a time because the company cannot find officers to cover the shifts. High turnover and understaffing in the security industry means fewer experienced officers protecting our homes, offices, and health care facilities.

“When we need to go home after our shift they sometimes just say they have no one to cover us,” he says. “If we can’t stay over time they threaten to fire us.” Malcom says that officers are less alert if they are exhausted and overworked, and fears that this could lead to someone making a dangerous mistake.

Recently, Malcolm approached Securatex management to ask for more training. 66% of Securatex officers surveyed report that they received 8 or fewer hours of training before they started working, and 85% of respondents report that they have never received refresher training. Malcolm’s request was denied; Securatex refused to pay for more training. Malcolm and his coworkers believe that every Securatex officer should feel prepared for the important and dangerous job of protecting the public—that’s why they’re organizing a union.

Malcolm used to have a union job. He saw first-hand that having a union benefitted both workers and the public. He and his coworkers had benefits, fair wages, and affordable health care. Consequently, turnover was low.

“If we had a union, turnover would be lower, and we would have a way to fix problems at work,” Malcolm says.

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