The officers gathered outside the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center alongside members of Service Employees International Union Local 1 for a news conference announcing plans to organize to seek improved standards from the contractors who employ them.
The rally was part of SEIU’s nationwide campaign to join with security workers in the fight for better working conditions. SEIU has already organized groups in Columbus, Chicago and Indianapolis and is working to do so in Milwaukee, said Kathleen Policy, a union representative.
For Detroit, about 300 to 400 security workers contracted by various firms for several buildings downtown, including DTE Energy and the Detroit Medical Center, are signing up to organize with the SEIU local, said the union’s Detroit coordinator, Vas Jacobs.
“They are the first responders and they need better working conditions. We’re trying to get better standards for them. They need better pay, better training and a voice on the job,” he said. “We want to see these changes for these workers. As Detroit is coming back and turning that corner, we need to make sure these neighborhood jobs, like security, also get enhanced and get better working conditions for those workers.”
Workers taking part Wednesday are employed by various contractors, including Advanced Security/USSA, which the SEIU contends has been an “irresponsible” contractor that they have been trying to work with. A representative for Georgia-headquartered U.S. Security Associates could not be immediately reached Wednesday, nor could an official with the Southfield-based Advanced Security offices.
Close to 100 union members, security staff and several Detroit City Council members gathered for the brief rally in front of the Spirit of Detroit statue on Woodward Avenue. The group played music and blew whistles, while some chanted “if we don’t get it, shut it down” and “no justice, no peace.” Others carried signs that read, “Good Jobs Safe Detroit.”