Lakeview High-Rise Tenants Protest Staff Layoffs as Management Cuts Costs [DNA info Chicago]



By Serena Dai on October 1, 2013

LAKEVIEW — Some residents of a lakeside high-rise are protesting the loss of long-time door staffers as the building’s management money seeks to cut costs by switching to private security.

A petition circulating atHawthorne House, 3450 N. Lake Shore Drive, has 230 tenant signatures asking that J.L. Woode keep six employees instead of switching to private security company Guardian Security Services, said Ivan Moreno, spokesman for SEIU Local 1, the staff’s union.

Some residents of the 37-floor, 455-unit building have bemoaned the “mean-spirited” nature of laying off long-time employees, and saying they’ll no longer have trusted employees who can leave packages in their homes, they said.

“There’s no heart,” said Gloria Wendroff, who lives in the building with her daughter. “This doesn’t make me, as a resident, feel important either.”

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the union, staff and some residents will be rallying outside the high-rise for the third time in three weeks in hopes of convincing J.L. Woode to change its mind, Moreno said.

Tenants and staff learned about the switch through the union and word of mouth in September, they said. The staff’s last day is Oct. 14.

The new workers will not be leaving packages in homes until further evaluation, according to an email to tenants.

Laying off long-time employees shows disrespect to the staff and to the tenants, several residents said. Current staff members have worked at the building for 10 years on average, Moreno said, and one doorman has worked there for 29 years.

“We are disturbed that the company, that manages our place of residence, is heartless enough to consider letting go a wonderful and loyal staff to save a few dollars,” resident Jonathan Groda wrote in an email to J.L. Woode.

A manager at J.L. Woode said the company has no comment. Guardian Security Services did not return a request for comment.

Employees were told they could reapply through Guardian, but they do not expect to be able to return, Moreno said.

If they are rehired, the wages and benefits may be lower, the union said. Door staffers currently earn $15.15 per hour with family health insurance, vacation time and sick days — whereas private security wages in Chicago range from minimum wage to $11 an hour and benefits may not be guaranteed, Moreno said.

Residents who protested the layoffs said they feared the company would do nothing despite their opposition. At a rally outside the building last week, the landscaping sprinklers went on, Moreno said, and J.L. Woode killed a deal to keep paying for health insurance for three months after employees spoke up.

“We’re continuing to show that residents are completely against” the layoffs, Moreno said. “This is something the community cares about.”

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