For Felicia Agbalaya being a security officer with Kates is more than just keeping people safe. “You’re helping, being a counselor,” she says. “I see it as a customer service job.”
Felicia takes her job seriously and cares deeply about the Chicago Housing Authority residents she’s responsible to protect. But that’s not something she can say about Kates. “They don’t do proper training like they should,” Felicia states. “They never trained us on the camera. We watch monitors, but don’t know how to go back, how to rewatch.”
Not only is Kates’ lack of training harmful to the residents, but the company has a pattern of disrespect towards its employees. When Felicia’s husband passed away Kates never offered her any time off. “They don’t care. That’s more hurtful than the low wages,” Felicia says. Earning only $13 an hour makes it difficult for Felicia to take care of her two teenagers, to the point where she had to get a second job to make ends meet. With unaffordable healthcare and low wages, Kates’ working conditions are less than ideal. It’s why Felicia is fighting for a union for herself and her colleagues.
“It would be wonderful. Having the union will help us give us workers some security. Coming together in a union means the company will have people to answer to,” she says. “I’m a very passionate person. I fight for what I believe in.”