Despite their third unsuccessful attempt to gain President David Adamany’s support, AlliedBarton security officers seeking to unionize at Temple remain determined to achieve their goal.
The officers, who were accompanied by representatives of the Service Employees International Union and their AlliedBarton colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania, marched to Adamany’s office Thursday to deliver a letter requesting a meeting with him to discuss the improvement of their working conditions.
They were received by the president’s assistant, Adam Michaels, who said Adamany has no plans to meet with officers and will remain uninvolved in the issue.
Inga Skippings, an SEIU spokesperson, said Adamany’s position would not deter the officers’ efforts.
“They were disappointed but were not discouraged,” Skippings said, “and they are just as dedicated as before to forming a union.”
The officers, who were hired by a separate contracting company, AlliedBarton, complained of low wages, poor healthcare, poor training, inadequate sick leave and high employee turnover rates. They also said AlliedBarton employs intimidation tactics to dissuade unionization.
Temple officer Richard Brooks voiced his desire to come together with all of his co-workers in order to resolve the problem.
“What they [AlliedBarton] try to do is discourage us from unionizing,” Brooks said. “Temple is not supporting us so that we can form a union.”
They joined members of the Student Labor Action Project and SEIU representatives for a teach-in on workers’ rights led by professor of African American studies, Chris Johnson, to address their concerns.
SLAP member and junior psychology major Katherine Cohen expressed students’ desire to take action.
“Adamany is trying to ignore the whole subject and it’s really not fair to the security officers,” Cohen said. “We want to force him to take a stand.”
The Philly 5, a group of Penn security officers who were suspended and transferred by AlliedBarton after a similar effort to involve the university president, were also present at the teach-in.
George Darrah, a member of the Philly 5, pledged his support to Temple officers in their fight to organize.
“The guards at Temple need to know that they cannot be fired for going to a union,” Darrah said, “and they cannot be fired for talking to a union person.”
Darrah went on to say that AlliedBarton reinstated him only after Penn president Amy Gutmann acknowledged the officers’ interests.
“I do not believe that they [AlliedBarton] would have done that if Penn had not demanded it,” Darrah said.
Larry Rubin, an AlliedBarton spokesperson, denied this allegation and said that the reinstatement of the officers was due to an internal evaluation.
“It had absolutely nothing to do with Penn,” Rubin said in a telephone interview.
Director of Communications Ray Betzner said Temple will maintain its neutral stance on the matter.
“We cannot comment on an issue between AlliedBarton Security and its employees,” Betzner said. “Temple contracts with many outside vendors, and we do not mandate that those independent contractors have unionized workforces.”
According to Skippings, Temple administration has the power to better security standards on campus.
“AlliedBarton is the employee of the president of Temple,” she said. “The president is in a unique position where he can put pressure on Allied to treat these employees better.”
Rubin approved of Adamany’s standpoint and claimed that his company has always provided its employees with quality services.
“AlliedBarton continues to operate outstanding operations at Temple,” he said.
Venuri Siriwardane can be reached at Venuri.Siriwardane@temple.edu.