They guard nearly 100 buildings in downtown Detroit that house thousands of Bedrock workers, yet, they have no one to protect them.
Dozens of SecurAmerica security officers rallied in Hart Plaza Wednesday afternoon, continuing their fight for union rights, affordable healthcare, and other requests needed to support their families. The security officers were joined by SEIU Local 1 janitors, Democratic 2020 Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris, and Detroit-area elected leaders that included Detroit City Councilwoman Janeé Ayers.
The Atlanta-based firm, SecurAmerica, is the primary security contractor for Bedrock, and employs security officers to protect Bedrock-owned properties such as One Campus Martius, One Woodward, and the First National Building. They are often the first responders in many dangerous situations, playing a key role in Detroit’s comeback. At the same time, without a voice on the job or quality, affordable healthcare, these same officers are struggling to enjoy the city’s redevelopment. They often have to rely on public assistance to make ends meet, and lack the equipment and training needed to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
“Companies like Bedrock have a responsibility to create good jobs in Detroit where workers have a voice in the workplace,” said SecurAmerica Security Officer Mattie Hunter, who is a desk officer at the First National Building. “We need union rights, with benefits such as affordable, quality healthcare to protect ourselves and create a better life for our families.”
Harris was among a list of Democratic presidential candidates who took part in a forum at the NAACP’s National Convention in Detroit. The forum was moderated by April Ryan at the Cobo Center not far from Hart Plaza. She took the stage with the SecurAmerica security guards and other dignitaries, standing in solidarity with them as they fight for a better future for their families and One Detroit.
“Detroit was built by workers. All that it represents, in terms of the promise of America, was built by the workers of America. So America must support her workers,” said Harris. “I have fought with organized labor throughout my career and I’m proud to stand in solidarity with the security officers here today fighting for their right to unionize and bargain for the protections and benefits they deserve. Unions built the middle class and we must hold corporations accountable to give every worker a voice and fair treatment.”
Last month, a small number of security guards held a one-day strike downtown, led by SEIU Local 1, which organized the security guards and helped them get a $15 hourly wage, just as downtown janitors did last July. Now the security guards are hoping to form a union to protect themselves from unfair treatment on the job and possible wage or job loss.
“It’s great that we got the $15, but we had to get out here and fight for it. Now we need our union,” said Delores McDaniel, who has been a security officer at One Woodward for a year. “With a union, we will have job security, protection on the job, being retaliated against, unfairly disciplined, and even fired.”
“I’ve done my homework on Kamala Harris and I think she’s a very viable candidate. I think the president has to work for the people of the United States and it means so much to have her out here standing with us.”
A number of city and state elected officials joined in the fight with the security officers, including Sen. Adam Hollier, Rep. Issac Robinson, Rep. Sherry Gay-Dugong, and City Council members Mary Sheffield, and Ayers, and Roy McCallister. Ayers has been a vocal advocate and foot soldier for the security officers, standing and marching with them as they fight for a brighter future.
“I’m not standing here as a councilmember. I’m standing here as a Detroiter and a person that understands what it means to work multiple jobs for a measly paycheck,” said Ayers. “I have had to sacrifice, march, fight, and cry for everything that I have up to this point. So know that you do have friends in City Council that will speak for you.”
“The first fight is over and now the maintaining fight is here. I’m in it for the long haul with you. And when we talk about bringing Detroit back, that means bringing everybody back.”