Asked about the quality of security work in Oakland, U.S. Navy veteran John Robinson will tell you that security officers have come a long way since the days when the job paid $6.50 an hour without benefits. He credits the improvement to his fellow security officers who over the years have banded together to bargain for better pay and working conditions.
After serving onboard the USS Carl Vinson for four years, John left the Navy in 1994 and began working various seasonal jobs around the Bay Area. He finally settled into a job as a security officer because he felt it best matched the skills he learned in the military.
“During the Gulf War, I was assigned to a dangerous squadron on an aircraft carrier that constantly had aircrafts landing and departing. You had to be on high alert and constantly aware of your surroundings if you wanted to succeed. The same is true about the job as a security officer,” John explained.
Although he excelled in his new job, he was initially uncertain if he could make a living and provide for his family on a security officer’s pay. There were times when an employer promised him a raise in compensation one week, and then forgot all about it the following week. All of that changed when his colleagues decided to form a union so they can raise standards in the security industry. Now John and his family can count on guaranteed wage increases every year and reliable family healthcare insurance.
Recently, John’s peers nominated him to the bargaining team so he could advocate for improvements that would benefit their families. Looking back at his experiences as a young father dealing with family medical emergencies, John made earned sick leave a priority and was successful in expanding the number of paid sick days in the latest contract.
“With a union, I get to keep what I earn and provide a better way of life for my family. There’s no better satisfaction than that,” he says.