Security Officers, Janitors, Clergy, and Elected Officials Rally and Risk Arrest to Spotlight the Growing Population of San Diegans who are Working and Homeless
As San Diego repeals the ordinance that bans sleeping in cars, security officers fight homelessness through organizing
San Diego, CA – San Diego is facing a historic housing crisis, in which many who work full time can no longer afford to pay the rent. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s annual report, it takes an hourly wage of $25.67 to afford to rent a one-bedroom apartment in California. Many security officers in San Diego make close to the minimum wage in San Diego, which is $12.00. That means they are often choosing between paying rent and feeding their families.
These conditions have pushed security officers from across San Diego to begin organizing for a union. They have worked with union officers in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and have seen that the union difference can be the difference between stability and living on the verge of homelessness. They are fighting to form a union because they see collective bargaining as the only way to win wages and benefits that will allow them to survive and care for their families.
Security contractors like Guard Management Inc. (GMI), one of San Diego’s largest security contractors with clients like medical giant NuVasive, CoreLogic, Kyocera International, Emmes Group, and the Thomas Jefferson Law School, pay many of their officers minimum wage or close to minimum wage. Jonel, a father of five young children was recently terminated by GMI Security after he spoke up regarding the need to improve working conditions for all San Diego officers. Jonel and his family are currently living with relatives, but he is worried that he and his children will soon be homeless.
GMI has also been involved in several wage theft lawsuits– including two class action cases. One case resulted in a settlement in which GMI paid $75,000 in back wages to California security officers.
Today, security officers, janitors, clergy, elected officials and their supporters rallied and risked arrest in front of Thomas Jefferson Law School. They demanded that Thomas Jefferson Law School and other building owners use responsible contractors that pay a living wage and respect their officers, and demanded that GMI respect the right of their officers and allow them to organize to improve their lives.
Nearly half of San Diego security officers report significant housing struggles, including the risk of becoming homeless due to the low wages. Instead of accepting homelessness as a condition of their jobs, security officers are organizing to make positive changes.