A rally for new contracts and better wages for the security officers of Philadelphia was held on the south side of Main Campus Thursday afternoon with support from students, local residents and security officers.
Beginning at the Mt. Olive Holy Temple on the 1400 block of North Broad Street, protesters crossed and marched up North Broad Street shouting, “What do we want? Contracts!” and “We are the Union!” before reaching the plaza in front of the Avenue North complex.
Several of those marching wore their security guard uniforms, including some donning Temple patches.
The protest was organized by members of the Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, which represents various service careers from Connecticut to Washington, D.C. The rally was not in protest of any one security company or employer, Wayne MacManiman, Mid-Atlantic district leader of the local, said in his speech.
“We are here for the people in the communities, a lot of security officers are the first line of defense, but the last in line when it comes to being paid,” MacManiman said.
“If you look down in this area, this particular university is a beautiful university,” MacManiman said as he pointed towards Main Campus. “If you look beyond the university, you’ll see one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia…a lot of our members that work in the security field live in North Philadelphia, imagine if they raised their salary, added meaningful benefits, imagine if there was a couple million dollars dumped into that community every year.”
Security workers at Temple are employed by Allied Barton Security Services, one of the six largest private security employers in the nation, according to the SEIU website.
Allied Barton did not respond to a request for comment by the time of press.
Kobra Oden, who works for Allied Barton at Temple Hospital, also addressed the crowd.
“It is a struggle for me to pay my rent every month, electric bill, phone bill, gas bill, water bill, buy clothes, feed my kids and myself, on the wages that I make,” Oden said.
Oden also said that she has been in need of medical attention since 2007, but has been unable to afford her company health insurance.
“There are hundreds of security officers like myself who also struggling to make ends meet,” Oden said.
Protesters at the rally reiterated calls for a contract for security employees that include health benefits and higher wages.
The median wage for security guards and gaming surveillance officers in 2010 was $11.72 an hour, or $24,380 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
No contracts for security officers in Philadelphia are listed on the Local 32BJ website, which lists other such contacts for security workers in the New York metro area, and other occupations in Philadelphia.
Several members of Occupy Temple joined in at the rally, holding up signs and giving speeches.
“Most students don’t really pay attention to the security officers on campus,” Paul Prescod, a senior history major, said in a speech to the crowd. “People who bear that kind of responsibility deserve to be respected, and deserve to be paid a wage that they can sustain a family on.”
“I think the main thing is just having a big group of people, the numbers show when there is an important cause,” Erin Hill, a senior secondary education in English major, said.
John Moritz can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @JCMoritzTU