Security officers in Hartford, Connecticut, voted this week to authorize a strike in the event that an agreement is not met with their employer, SOS Security.
Though employed for a private company, the officers work to protect important state buildings, including those that house Homeland Security, Social Services and Revenue Services. SOS officers say that the strike authorization is in response to a failure by the officers' employer to make pension contributions required by the state contract, and the company's attempts to intimidate workers who are engaging in lawful union-organizing activities.
"SOS Security has responded to our lawful union organizing efforts with intimidation tactics, interrogation, and this is unacceptable," said security officer Matthew Anderson, one of several officers quoted by local news site CT News Junkie. "We are ready to take unprecedented measures to stand for what is right." Anderson has worked at the 450 Capitol Ave. complex for two years.
"It is disgraceful that when hard-working people try to talk to each other about improving their work conditions, employers like SOS Security respond with intimidation and harassment," said Kurt Westby, Director of 32BJ SEIU in Connecticut. Some security officers say they earn so little that many are forced to rely on taxpayer-funded healthcare and other public assistance.
The officers held a rally at the Connecticut state capitol to speak out about their jobs, and were joined by several local elected officials.
"It offends me when contractors that purport -- when it's time to get the business -- and they say 'We will do right by our workers, state of Connecticut,' and they don't. And so we shouldn't have to stand here today," said Shawn Wooden, president of the Hartford City Council. "But we are here to say 'enough is enough.'"
32BJ SEIU has requested that the Department of Administrative Services conduct an audit of SOS, to review whether they've made proper pension payments, paid correct holiday rates and wages, offered fair healthcare options, and provided working safety equipment such as radios.