Council members Support Better Wages For Security Guards
City Council Members Brewer, Gonzales, and Jackson along with community leaders rallied today in the Financial District calling for better wages for security officers. The security officers employed by Elite Investigations Ltd, protect commercial office buildings that house some of Manhattanâ€™s most prestigious businesses, yet some earn as little as $8.00/hr. â€œI put my life on the line every day to protect the people and property in my building,â€? said James Barnes, an Elite security officer. â€œI am a husband and father of five. My family depends on me to provide for them, but Elite has not given me a raise in the past four years. Six months ago I was forced to take a second job.â€?
â€œAs state president of the NAACP, I am deeply concerned about the poverty level wages that our security officers earn. These officers - many of them people of color - deserve to make sufficient, stable wages to provide for themselves and their families,â€? said Hazel Dukes. Elite Investigations Ltd employs over 650 security officers in the tri-state area and protects more than 5.7 million square footage of property in New York City. Reflecting a trend in the private security industry, the majority of Eliteâ€™s security officers - over 80% - are people of color.
â€œElite should act responsibly by paying security officers a living wage,â€? said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. â€œSecurity officers are on the frontlines of protecting our city. They work hard to keep us safe and should not have to worry about making ends meet.â€?
â€œSecurity officers keep our residents safe,â€? said Council Member Robert Jackson. â€œThey risk their lives to protect multi-million dollar buildings, yet they have to struggle to provide for their families.â€?
â€œSecurity is one of the few non-fast food jobs available to residents of my district,â€? said Council Member Sara Gonzalez. â€œSecurity companies like Elite exploit this by paying low wages that keep our communities in poverty.â€?
Since 1999, the New York State Department of Labor has sustained wage and hour complaints brought against Elite. In addition, Elite is currently under investigation by the New York Division of Human Rights for "engaging in unlawful discriminatory practice."
â€œThe wages paid by Elite makes security a dead-end job,â€? said Lenore Friedlaender, Local 32BJ Vice President. â€œThe low wages lead to high turnover that potentially jeopardizes building and tenant safety.â€? With more than 75,000 members, Local 32BJ is the largest private sector union in New York City and the largest building service union in the country.