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What About Us?

Security Guards, Labor Relations Law, and the SEIU


Kevin P. Barry
March 2008

1. Introduction
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “guards, who are also called security

officers, patrol and inspect property to protect against fire, theft, vandalism, terrorism, and illegal

activity. These workers protect their employer’s investment, enforce laws on the property, and

deter criminal activity and other problems.”1 There are more than one million security guards

nationwide, with median wages slightly above $10 per hour and $21,000 annually.2 The

importance of adequate security has been the subject of significant attention in the post-9/11

United States, and the industry continues its steady growth.3

While there are many types of guards in both government and private industry, the focus

of this paper is on those guards employed in the private security industry by contract firms,

working at places such as commercial office buildings, public properties, and universities. These

unarmed guards are, in general, poorly trained, poorly paid, and predominantly African-

American. Traditionally, they have also been nonunion. As a result, in recent years the Service

Employees International Union (SEIU) has sought to represent them nationwide.

1
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition,
available at http://www.bls.gov/oco/pdf/ocos159.pdf
2
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2006.”
Occupational Employment Statistics, available at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes339032.htm
3
The Occupational Outlook Handbook states that “concern about crime, vandalism, and terrorism continues to
increase the need for security. Demand for guards also will grow as private security firms increasingly perform
duties—such as providing security at public events and in residential neighborhoods—that were formerly handled
by police officers.” The SEIU also cites BLS data in naming private security as one of the fastest growing
occupations in the U.S. (http://www.seiu.org/property/security/about_industry/)
I begin by tracing the history of labor relations law as it relates to security guards, and

then describe how the SEIU, building upon its successful “Justice for Janitors” campaign, has

been able to circumvent the relevant law and organize thousands of security guards throughout

the U.S. as part of its national “Stand for Security” campaign. In particular, I discuss Stand for

Security’s origins, organizational structure, basic bargaining objectives, overall approach, and

specific tactical strategies. I also summarize campaign developments in cities across the country,

and then take a more detailed look at Los Angeles, which has been an important battleground for

the union. I conclude by briefly considering how various issues surrounding the SEIU’s

organization and representation of security guards may influence the future of the campaign.

2. Background
(i) Wagner Act and Subsequent Period (1935-47)
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed in 1935. Also known in its initial

form as the Wagner Act, the NLRA gave workers the right to organize, engage in collective

bargaining, and strike, and it established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to prevent

unfair labor practices and conduct union representation elections. With respect to these

elections, section 9(b) of the Act conferred exclusive authority to the NLRB to determine and

certify the appropriate bargaining unit under the law, as follows:

“The Board shall decide in each case whether, in order to insure to employees that
full benefit of their right to self-organization and to collective bargaining, and
otherwise effectuate the policies of this Act, the unit appropriate for the purposes
of collective bargaining shall be the employer unit, craft unit, plant unit, or
subdivision thereof.”

2
Because the Act gave the NLRB full discretion to make its own bargaining unit

determinations, and Congress offered no guidance, the Board was free to create its own policies.4

However, its flexible interpretations as to what constituted an “appropriate bargaining unit”

quickly became the source of significant controversy involving employers, organized labor,

Congress, and the courts. Amid this controversy, the Supreme Court repeatedly upheld the

NLRB’s right to determine bargaining units under the NLRA.5

The issue of security guards, however, did not become prominent until World War II.

Guards had not traditionally been unionized, but during the war many plant guards attempted to

organize.6 Despite the general objections of employers, who maintained that the nature of

guards’ responsibilities and their relationship with management precluded the right to union

representation, the NLRB ruled that the protections granted under the Act to employees did

indeed extend to guards.

In determining appropriate bargaining units for guards, the Board generally placed them

in separate units, though in some instances combined them with production and maintenance

employees. These determinations depended on such factors as whether or not the guards were

militarized (mainly an issue during the war) and whether their functions were more monitorial or

custodial in nature; however, these criteria were not consistently applied.7 Further, even when

the Board did place guards in separate bargaining units, it put no restrictions on their choice of

bargaining representative, such that a guard unit could have as its agent the same union already

4
Benjamin Rathbun, Jr., “The Taft-Hartley Act and Craft Unit Bargaining.” The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 59, No. 6
(May, 1950), pp. 1024-6.
5
E.B. McNatt, “The ‘Appropriate Bargaining Unit’ Problem.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 56, No. 1,
Part 1 (Nov., 1941), pp. 93-107.
6
Fred Witney, “The Appropriate Bargaining Unit Controversy.” Southern Economic Journal, Vol. 16, No. 2 (Oct.,
1949), p. 180.
7
Jeffrey C. McGuiness and Robert E. Williams, “Guard Unions and the Problem of Divided Loyalties (Revised
Supplement to The LRB and the Appropriate Bargaining Unit).” Industrial Research Unit, The Wharton School,
University of Pennsylvania (1989), pp. 9-12.

3
representing other nonguard units—such as production and maintenance workers—of its

employer.8

These Board decisions were controversial because of the potential “divided loyalty

problem”—that is, “if guards belong to the same union as other employees, the guards’ loyalty to

fellow union members during a strike of other collective action could directly conflict with their

duties to enforce rules and protect property.”9 However, despite such concerns, the Supreme

Court continued to affirm the NLRB’s treatment of guards. Of particular importance was the

Court’s decision in LRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. This decision, announced in

May 1947 while Congress was in the process of drafting an amendment to the Wagner Act, drew

legislative attention to the issue. Because of this problem of divided loyalties and its perceived

implications, many members of Congress believed that allowing such “mixed unions” to exist

under the Act constituted poor public policy.10

(ii) Taft-Hartley Act and Legal Impact on Guards


Later in 1947, Congress passed the Labor-Management Relations Act, also known as the

Taft-Hartley Act. The Act, which amended the NLRA, was enacted after Congress overrode

President Truman’s veto. Taft-Hartley made some superficial changes to the original language

of Section 9(b), but—much more importantly—also restricted the NLRB’s authority to make

bargaining unit determinations in a few different ways, one of which reflected the ongoing

controversy over guards:

The Board shall decide in each case whether, in order to assure to employees the
fullest freedom in exercising the rights guaranteed by this Act, the unit
appropriate for the purposes of collective bargaining shall be the employer unit,

8
Witney, p. 181.
9
McGuiness & Williams, p. 4.
10
Ibid., pp. 13-17.

4
craft unit, plant unit, or subdivision thereof: Provided, That the Board shall
not….(3) decide that any unit is appropriate for such purposes if it includes,
together with other employees, any individual employed as a guard to enforce
against employees and other persons rules to protect property of the employer or
to protect the safety of persons on the employer's premises; but no labor
organization shall be certified as the representative of employees in a bargaining
unit of guards if such organization admits to membership, or is affiliated directly
or indirectly with an organization which admits to membership, employees other
than guards.

This provision resulted from a compromise between the House of Representatives and Senate.

The House version of Taft-Hartley completely excluded guards from the Act, while the Senate

version made no such changes. The agreement reached by the two legislative bodies addressed

the widely recognized problem posed by mixed unions while preserving guards’ basic employee

rights under the Act.11

By restricting guards to separate bargaining units and taking away the NLRB’s power to

certify guard unions affiliated with nonguard unions,12 section 9(b)(3) effectively prevented

organized labor from organizing and continuing to represent guards.13 Many NLRB rulings and

court decisions made prior to Taft-Hartley with respect to guards were essentially invalidated,

and in applying the amended law the NLRB ruled that even guard-only unions affiliated with the

American Federation of Labor (AFL) and Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) were

ineligible for certification, on the grounds that such an association resulted in an indirect

affiliation with nonguard unions. The result was that “only an unaffiliated union admitting to

11
Ibid.
12
Taft-Hartley does not make it illegal for guards to affiliate themselves in this way, but denies the right of
collective bargaining to those who do. Employers, however, can still voluntarily recognize and agree to bargain
with such unions. Some opponents of mixed unions have characterized this as a loophole in the law.
13
Robert J. Rosenthal, “Exclusion of Employees under the Taft-Hartley Act.” Industrial and Labor Relations
Review, Vol. 4, No. 4 (Jul., 1951), p. 568.

5
membership only plant guards would qualify for certification by the NLRB to represent

guards.”14

Though this section of Taft-Hartley was aimed primarily at traditional plant guards, its

definition of guard was intentionally vague. More important to Congress than the exact nature of

the guards’ duties was their potential for divided loyalties. Accordingly, the broad language of

section 9(b)(3) allowed the NLRB to expansively interpret the definition as it saw fit to prevent

situations of divided loyalties from occurring.15

Through a series of subsequent rulings, the NLRB broadened the scope of this definition

to include many types of standard in-house and contract proprietary guards and watchmen,16

generally based on the divided loyalties line of reasoning that reflected Congress’s intent. The

Board has also ruled that this section of the Act covers many specialized categories of

employees, such as alarm service guards, armored car guards, courier guards, and a whole host

of others.17 Whether or not they are armed, deputized, or uniformed is irrelevant.18 Over the

years, the NLRB and the courts have been consistent in their interpretations: “except for a short

time following enactment of the provision in 1947, the law under section 9(b)(3) has not suffered

from the swings in decision-making that are characteristic of other areas of the Act.”19

The passage of Taft-Hartley led to the first national, independent guard union, the United

Plant Guard Workers of America (UPGWA), which was certified by the NLRB in 1948 and

initially included some 1,250 members in twelve local unions across five states.20 The UPGWA

14
“The Taft-Hartley Act After One Year.” The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (1948), p. 124.
15
McGuiness & Williams, pp. 18-19.
16
McGuiness and Williams define proprietary guards and watchmen as “employees engaged in on-site property
protection and rule enforcement” (p. 22)—essentially, the same definition as in Taft-Hartley.
17
Ibid., pp. 26-40.
18
John E. Abodeely et al, “The NLRB and the Appropriate Bargaining Unit (Revised Edition)”, Industrial Research
Unit, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania (1981), p. 218.
19
McGuiness & Williams, p. 1.
20
http://www.local511union.org/historypage.html

6
grew significantly over time and has since become the Security, Police and Fire Professionals of

America (SPFPA). The union claims a membership of more than 30,000 members in 300 locals

throughout the United States and Canada. It represents “Court Security Officers, Nuclear

Security Officers, Campus Safety Officers, Casino Police, and many other highly specialized

security, police and fire professionals” across several industries and government agencies.21

Another prominent international security guard union is the United Government Security

Officers of America (UGSOA), which was established in 1992 and also represents both

government and non-government security officers.22 Many independent local guards unions,

representing a wide variety of security professionals, also operate throughout the United States.

(iii) Justice for Janitors: Prelude to Stand for Security


A proper understanding of Stand for Security requires, at a minimum, a brief glance back

at its related predecessor movement, Justice for Janitors. In the mid-1980s, the SEIU began a

nationwide campaign to organize janitors. The campaign, which “combined street theater and

civil disobedience with legal and corporate strategies to organize the janitorial industry,”23

provided a successful model that the SEIU has in many ways replicated in its more recent foray

into the security guard industry. The union centralized Justice for Janitors at the national level

and selectively targeted locals to mount campaigns in cities throughout the country, such as

Denver, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC.24 Using authorization card campaigns,25 the SEIU

21
http://www.spfpa.org/
22
http://www.ugsoa.com/aboutugsoa.html
23
Jennifer Luff, “Justice for Janitors” in Eric Arnesen (ed.), Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working-Class
History” (New York: Taylor & Francis Group, 2007), p. 729.
24
Ibid.
25
In an authorization card campaign, a union attempts to persuade employees to sign cards authorizing the union to
be their bargaining agent. When a majority of the employees it seeks to represent have signed authorization cards,
the union may then request recognition from the employer.

7
organized janitors with appeals to justice and the prospect of economic benefits.26 With the

credibility it gained from signing up janitors in each city, the union then pushed for union

recognition27 and collective bargaining agreements.

However, rather than pressure the cleaning companies that directly employed the janitors,

the SEIU focused its efforts on the building owners who contracted their services. By exerting

pressure primarily on these owners, the union hoped that they would in turn compel their

contractors to recognize the union and negotiate a contract—or risk losing their business.28 At

the same time, the SEIU used aggressive tactics to publicize its cause and force action. It

mobilized its rank-and-file janitors, who protested to their employers in support of union

recognition and engaged in public demonstrations to put pressure on building owners and

politicians.29 It documented and publicized employers’ violations of labor laws,30 and also

partnered with community groups in different cities to bolster support and increase pressure on

unresponsive or intransigent parties.31 A series of coordinated strikes in 2000 made Justice for

Janitors a national force.32

26
Margaret Levi, “Organizing Power: The Prospects for an American Labor Movement,” Perspectives on Politics,
Vol. 1, No. 1 (Mar., 2003), p. 54; Cynthia L. Estlund, “The Ossification of American Labor Law,” Columbia Law
Review, Vol. 102, No. 6 (Oct., 2002), p. 1606.
27
When a union signs up a clear majority of employees it may press the employer to accept a card check agreement,
under which the employer agrees to recognize the union upon confirming that a majority of its employees do in fact
desire representation. Employers have no obligation, however, to accept or honor such agreements under federal
labor law; they always reserve the right to insist upon a representation election administered by the NLRB before
engaging in collective bargaining. Card check arrangements have been the source of controversy in recent years.
The Republican-sponsored “Secret Ballot Protection Act” would have outlawed their use, while the Democrat-
sponsored “Employee Free Choice Act” would have mandated employer recognition of the union if a majority of
employees signed cards. Neither bill made it out of Congress.
28
Luff, p. 729.
29
Ibid., pp. 729-30.
30
Ibid., p. 730.
31
Estlund refers to this type of action as a “comprehensive campaign,” which she defines as campaigns “that appeal
directly to the public by way of rallies, pickets, speeches, and leafleting in public streets and parks, often with the
active support of churches and other community organizations outside the labor movement itself.” (p. 1605)
32
Luff, p. 731.

8
In cities where its union recognition efforts were successful, the SEIU essentially pursued

a strategy of pattern/industrywide bargaining,33 negotiating master agreements with majorities of

contractors such that none of them would be put at significant competitive disadvantage by

participating.34 The Justice for Janitors campaign also eschewed the traditional method of

gaining union recognition and collective bargaining rights through NLRB certification. Working

around this cumbersome process35 “spared the union the endless litigation and arcane

bureaucratic maneuvering that the NLRB election procedure had become.”36 In this manner, the

SEIU has been tremendously effective in organizing janitors and securing contracts in cities all

across the country. As of 2005, the SEIU had organized more than 70% of janitors in 23 of the

50 largest U.S. cities.37

3. Stand for Security


(i) Beginnings
In the 1990s, as its Justice for Janitors campaign continued to expand, the SEIU began to

consider whether it should also attempt to organize security guards. Since many of these guards

worked in the same commercial office buildings as the janitors the SEIU represented, union

organizers had direct contact with them and were able to gauge their interest in representation.38

33
According to the Fossum Labor Relations textbook, pattern bargaining “represents a form of quasi-industry
bargaining,” so the distinction here is not significant. John A. Fossum, “Labor Relations: Development, Structure,
Process,” 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2006), p. 217.
34
Luff, p. 730.
35
Estlund writes that this process “multiplies the occasions for employer resistance and delay, and dissipates the
momentum of the organizing campaign before the workers can secure any concrete rewards.” (p. 1606)
36
Luff, p. 730.
37
Ibid, p. 731.
38
SEIU organizer Mike Garcia (now president of SEIU Local 1877), who worked on the janitors campaign in Los
Angeles, told the LA Times that at office building union rallies for the janitors, “the security guards come up to us
and say, ‘What about us?’” Stewart Silverstein, “Janitors Union Vows to Turn Up Organizing Heat,” Los Angeles
Times, March 26, 1997.

9
Over the course of the next few years, and with increased concerns about security after the

attacks of September 11,39 the decision was made to launch a national campaign.40

Acting on president Andrew Stern’s five-year goal to organize the private security

industry,41 in 2002 the SEIU absorbed the International Union of Security Officers (IUSO) and

its approximate 5,000 members in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Pedro (CA), and Seattle.42

Later in the year, the SEIU launched campaigns in Los Angeles and Minneapolis/St. Paul.43 The

union subsequently expanded its campaign to cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston,

Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Washington, DC.44 It named the campaign “Stand for Security”

and incorporated it into its Property Services Division representing janitors and other building

service employees.45

Within the ranks of organized labor, however, the SEIU’s entrance into the security guard

industry—long the domain of guard-only unions because of Taft-Hartley—was not without early

39
Especially in high-rise office buildings in major cities like New York and Los Angeles.
40
Despite SEIU denials, issues of race may also have factored into this decision. In the 1980s, many unionized
African-American janitors lost their jobs to low-cost Latino nonunion workers. Through Justice for Janitors,
therefore, the SEIU replaced what was once a primarily African-American representation with largely Latino
representation. In Los Angeles, specifically, where there is an abundance of immigrant labor that has displaced
African-Americans in a variety of industries, tensions may be particularly acute. The SEIU might have had a
difficult time justifying a decision not to represent security guards in a city where an estimated 70% of the industry
is African-American (by the SEIU’s own account) and it already represented Latino janitors. However, in
addressing many security guards’ desire for union representation, the SEIU also had to ease concerns in the African-
American community that unionization may push them out of the industry, as it did with janitorial and hotel jobs.
See Sonya Geis, “Security Guards Eye Organizing; Black Workers Worry About Being Displaced,” Washington
Post, July 1, 2006; and Erin Aubry Kaplan, “The black-brown divide; An alliance seems natural, but what separates
Latinos and African Americans has to be examined first,” Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2006.
41
Adam Holdorf, “Two unions fight over ill-paid, demoralized security officers.” Real Change ews, September 5,
2002.
42
“Organizing: Victories for 2002.” Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO, available at
http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pros/organizing/org_ytd.cfm?YR=2002
43
Jim McNeill, “Labor Divided.” Dissent Magazine, Fall 2005. Stern’s emphasis on organizing workers was a key
factor in the SEIU’s decision to leave the AFL-CIO in 2005 and join the Change to Win coalition.
44
http://www.seiu.org/property/security/campaigns/ Note that while the SEIU also lists Sacramento among the
cities involved in Stand for Security, I have come across no evidence that it has attempted to organize security
guards there. It is possible that the inclusion of Sacramento on the SEIU’s website merely reflects its political
lobbying efforts on behalf of security guards in Los Angeles and San Francisco/Oakland.
45
The SEIU’s other two primary divisions are Healthcare and Public Services. http://www.seiu.org

10
controversy. Though the SEIU reached an “anti-raid” agreement with UGSOA in 2002,46 it

failed to reach such an agreement with SPFPA, and that same year the two unions tangled over

the right to represent several hundred formerly IUSO-represented workers at Northwest

Protective Services in Seattle.47 In a 2003 letter to the SPFPA rank-and-file, union president

David Hickey characterized the SEIU’s actions as an “attempt to dominate the industry and

destroy legitimate security unions like the SPFPA.”48 Nevertheless, the two unions have avoided

jurisdictional disputes since that time, though SPFPA continues to be opposed to SEIU

representation of security guards on principle.49

(ii) Organization and Core Issues


The SEIU has leveraged its network of local property services unions to organize security

guards,50 including Local 1877 in California, Local 1 in Chicago and Milwaukee, Local 6 in

Seattle, Local 26 in the Twin Cities, Local 615 in Boston, and Local 32BJ in New York,

Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.51 In most cities where the SEIU has gained union

recognition of security guards, it has integrated such bargaining units into its existing property

services locals, though it has established separate guard-only unions in San Francisco and Los

Angeles: Local 24/7 and the Security Officers Union in Los Angeles Local 2006 (SOULA

46
This agreement is referenced in footnote 2 of the Final Order of SPFPA v. UGSOA, Pennsylvania Labor Relations
Board, Case No. PERA-C-03-406-E, May 18, 2004.
47
Holdorf, September 5, 2002.
48
SPFPA Magazine 2003, available at http://www.spfpa.org/Dec2002_01.pdf.
49
In testifying before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Employer-Employee Relations in late 2006, Hickey stated,
“The divided loyalty rationale for separate guard units continues and is more paramount because of increased levels
of security. While there is a lack of studies due to the long history of guard-only units, it is clear that a mixed unit is
incompatible with national security or any form of security.” House Committee on Education and Labor: 109th
Congress, Serial No. 109-60 – Examining Whether Combining Guards and Other Employees in Bargaining Units
Would Weaken ational Security, September 28, 2006, available at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-
bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_house_hearings&docid=f:30079.pdf.
50
In addition to benefiting from the existing organizational infrastructure in many cities, the SEIU’s access to
security guards, as noted above, is also enhanced by its representation of janitors and other building service
employees with whom many guards work in close proximity.
51
SEIU’s property services local in Washington, DC was Local 82 when the campaign began, but has since merged
with Local 32BJ.

11
2006), respectively. The security guards in each of these locals are united under the broader

Stand for Security movement directed at the national level.52

Stand for Security revolves around four key bargaining issues: wages, health care,

training, and job turnover.53 Many security guards currently earn near-poverty wages54 with

little to no benefits, and work multiple jobs to make ends meet. The SEIU seeks to obtain living

wages55 and affordable health care for its members.56 Furthermore, it characterizes security

guards’ training as “minimal, inconsistent, and sometimes non-existent,”57 and advocates

enhanced standards to professionalize the industry and improve safety. The private security

industry also suffers from high turnover rates.58 The SEIU maintains that such turnover is

unnecessarily costly to security guard contractors and their clients,59 as well as an important

safety concern.60 In addition to pushing for better wages, health care, and training, the SEIU is

52
For example, national bargaining standards were established in 2007. “Security officers agree to national
bargaining standards to strengthen communities, improve public safety,” SEIU press release, June 28, 2007,
available at http://www.seiu.org/media/pressreleases.cfm?pr_id=1439
53
http://www.seiu.org/property/security/campaigns/
54
While the industrywide statistics noted in the introduction place most security guards above federal poverty
thresholds (see http://census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/threshld/thresh07.html), the differences are not considerable.
Further, many of the guards the SEIU has targeted earn wages below the occupational median. The SEIU has
maintained, for example, that its security guards in Los Angeles average about $8.50 per hour. Ashraf Khalil, “Deal
to boost security guards’ pay; Union set to vote on landmark contract that increase wages and benefits 40% for
workers in L.A.,” Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2008.
55
What constitutes a “living wage” is to some degree subjective, based on what one perceives to be an adequate
standard of living, and also varies according to the cost of living in any geographic location. Regardless, the wages
earned by many security guards are probably not living wages by most measures.
56
http://www.seiu.org/property/issues/living_wages.cfm
57
http://www.seiu.org/property/issues/training.cfm
58
The SEIU cites an estimation of 100-300% per year. http://www.seiu.org/property/issues/job_turnover.cfm
59
This is a classic example of an integrative bargaining issue that could result in mutual gains for all parties. If
improved wages and benefits for security guards reduce job turnover, then private security companies save on
replacement costs, and their clients benefit having from a more stable workforce that can better secure their
properties. See the Fossum Labor Relations textbook for a more comprehensive description of integrative
bargaining. John A. Fossum, “Labor Relations: Development, Structure, Process,” 9th ed. (New York: McGraw-
Hill/Irwin, 2006), pp. 302, 384-9.
60
http://www.seiu.org/property/issues/job_turnover.cfm

12
also attempting to address the problem of turnover by bargaining for career advancement

opportunities, paid time off, acceptable work hours, and retirement benefits.61

(iii) Approach and Tactics


The Justice for Janitors legacy is evident in the Stand for Security campaign, not only in

its choice of name, but also in its organizing and bargaining tactics. Despite the restrictions

posed by section 9(b)(3) of the NLRA, Justice for Janitors proved that the SEIU could achieve its

objectives without reliance on federal labor relations law. While this was a strategic decision for

the janitors campaign, for the security guards campaign, it is a must. To organize and represent

security guards at the bargaining table, the SEIU cannot depend on the protections of the NLRA

(as amended), thus necessitating a similar card check approach.62

Stand for Security resembles Justice for Janitors in other ways as well. The union faces

many of the same landlords and trade associations in the commercial real estate industry as it did

in the janitor struggle. It has similarly pressured such third parties63 to use their economic

leverage to demand that their contractors allow employees to unionize and bargain for a fair

contract. Consolidation of both the commercial real estate and private security industries has

allowed the SEIU to more easily pursue an industrywide approach,64 negotiating “area-wide

61
http://www.seiu.org/media/pressreleases.cfm?pr_id=1439
62
Despite their importance, however, legal prohibitions were probably not a significant consideration in the SEIU’s
choice of strategy to organize security guards. The effectiveness of Justice for Janitors and the many similarities in
industry dynamics faced by the two campaigns provide strong reason to believe that pressing for voluntary union
recognition and collective bargaining is the preferable alternative regardless of labor relations law.
63
Third parties in the sense that they are outside of the standard employer-employee relationship.
64
Because of the emphasis on large commercial office buildings, an “industry sub-sector” approach is probably
more accurate. Consolidation of the private security industry, in particular, has been beneficial to the SEIU. In
many cities and metropolitan areas, the union has been able to capture substantial proportions of its target market by
agreeing to terms with just five or less employers.

13
master agreements”65 with uniform (or at least very similar) contractual terms for each

signatory.66

From very early on in its campaign, the SEIU has been active on the political front,

enlisting the support of public officials at all levels of government. It has also lobbied heavily

for legislation to improve standards in the private security industry. For example, in 2002 the

SEIU sponsored successful state legislation that established increased training requirements and

stricter background checks for security guards in California. It also sponsored legislation to

provide California security guards with whistleblower protections and institute a formal

mechanism for tenants and residents to complain about poor security, in hopes of bringing about

greater accountability.67 Stand for Security has since established “Safe and Secure” initiatives in

several cities to push for industry regulation and related measures.68

The SEIU has also produced and commissioned studies that examine the problems

plaguing the private security industry. In Los Angeles, for example, the Stand for Security

Coalition contracted the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE) to prepare an

industry study. The April 2006 report, titled “Undertrained, Underpaid, and Underprepared:

How L.A.’s Commercial Office Building Owners Are Failing Security Officers and

Compromising Public Safety,” cites issues of high turnover, poor training, lack of accountability,

65
As defined by the SEIU (http://www.seiu.org/media/pressreleases.cfm?pr_id=1410). For an example, see Article
1 (“Territorial Jurisdiction”) of the expired Minneapolis/St. Paul contract, available at
http://www.seiu26.org/Admin/Assets/AssetContent/5922a2e5-e11d-40e1-816d-c6006f1bac62/546bfa9e-94e2-495f-
9d30-54cc81f55e47/00afc72e-220f-4859-8e39-
d5667080d1c8/1/MINNEAPOLIS%20ST%20PAUL%20SECURITY%20MASTER%20CONTRACT%202005-
2007.pdf
66
Furthermore, “most favored nation” clauses ensure that no future signatories will get a better deal from the union.
Article 1 of the Minneapolis/St. Paul has such a clause.
67
AB 2880, for example, raised the required level of training from 3 hours to 40 hours upon licensure as a security
guard: 8 hours before beginning employment and 32 hours within 6 months. “Security officers win major training
increase to protect building tenants, public,” SEIU press release, September 27, 2002, available at
http://www.strongertogether.net/media/pressreleases.cfm?pr_id=1070
68
http://www.seiu.org/property/security/improving_security/initiatives.cfm

14
and other problems. Its recommendations essentially mirror the SEIU’s bargaining objectives.69

Other SEIU-sponsored reports have similar themes.70

The SEIU has also organized the community around its campaign. The Stand for

Security Coalition in Los Angeles, which has since expanded to the San Francisco Bay Area, is a

group of community leaders and clergy who champion the cause of security guards.71 Religious

leaders and community groups elsewhere in the U.S. have also embraced the campaign, helping

the SEIU to organize and mobilize guards, and making appeals on their behalf to elected officials

and other key players. They have participated in demonstrations, rallies, protests, marches,

vigils, and other mass action along with the union’s rank-and-file membership. Similar to Justice

for Janitors, Stand for Security is not simply a union organizing campaign, but has developed

into a broader community-based movement.

Because much of the security workforce is African-American, the theme of race is central

to Stand for Security. The SEIU has tied the campaign to the legacy of the Pullman Porters, who

in the 1930s started the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters—the first-ever African-American-

69
The report is available at http://www.standforsecuritycoalition.com/docs/Untertrained_Underpaid_Unprepared.pdf
70
See “Building Security: Working Together to Improve Standards in the Security Industry in Washington, DC,”
available at
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fseiu82.org%2FdocUploads%2Fdc%2520sec
%2520white%2520pages_052504_105739.pdf&ei=ISzPR9eIIqnepgTyy4WdCw&usg=AFQjCNFsZDpUmz4gu1qj
PoGC3DCNy-4R0A&sig2=l1w1iwUdDJacsgcym4hUzQ, and “Building Security: Working Together to Improve
Standards in Seattle’s Security Industry,” available at
http://seiu6.localsonline.org/docUploads/Seattle%20Security%20White%20Paper.pdf. The Stand for Security
Coalition also prepared a report in 2007 for the California Legislative Black Caucus titled, “Separate and Unequal:
How the Corporate Real Estate Industry can End Poverty Conditions in Building Security,” available at
www.assembly.ca.gov/lbcweb/pdf/SeparateUnequalpg.pdf, and in January 2008 released “Securing Minnesota’s
Future: Our Falling Middle Class and How We Can Restore It,” available at
http://www.seiu26.org/Admin/ASSETHANDLER.ASHX?id=16254cbe-883f-47e1-93ac-
18de4f349420&v=1&fi=aT0xNjI1NGNiZS04ODNmLTQ3ZTEtOTNhYy0xOGRlNGYzNDk0MjAJdj0xCXQ9YX
BwbGljYXRpb24vcGRmCWY9QzpcV1RGXEFzc2V0c1xBc3NldENvbnRlbnRcNTkyMmEyZTUtZTExZC00MG
UxLTgxNmQtYzYwMDZmMWJhYzYyXDU0NmJmYTllLTk0ZTItNDk1Zi05ZDMwLTU0Y2M4MWY1NWU0
N1wxNjI1NGNiZS04ODNmLTQ3ZTEtOTNhYy0xOGRlNGYzNDk0MjBcMVxTRUlVIExPQ0FMIDI2IFJFUE9S
VCBGSU5BTC1zaW5nbGUucGRmCW49U2VjdXJpbmcgTWlubmVzb3RhJ3MgRnV0dXJlLnBkZg2
71
http://www.standforsecuritycoalition.com/

15
led labor union.72 The SEIU and its partners in the community have portrayed Stand for Security

as an extension of the civil rights movement,73 and scheduled events around Martin Luther King

Day and the anniversary of his assassination.74 In Seattle, for example, April 4th has been

declared—not coincidentally—Security Officer Appreciation Day.75

The campaign has also used race-related rhetoric to put pressure on property owners and

security providers, framing their recalcitrance as racist, discriminatory, and a denial of African-

Americans’ freedom to unionize.76 In addition, it has tied together the issues of race and industry

double standards. The Stand for Security Coalition website states, “While building owners have

acceded to union representation for their primarily Latino janitorial workforce and their largely

Anglo engineering workforce, they are opposing union representation for security officers.”77

The SEIU has also drawn attention to the disparity between security guards’ low wages and lack

of benefits with those of its unionized janitors, and emphasized the contrast between poor

security guards and the expensive properties (with wealthy owners) they protect.78

72
http://www.standforsecurity.org/
73
Steven Milukan, “Who Goes There; L.A. security guards seek more security,” LA Weekly, July 6, 2006.
74
King is famous for linking labor issues to civil rights and the concept of economic justice. “Senator Clinton,
Leading Clergy, Community Leaders Support Local 32BJ ‘Stand for Security’ Campaign; Call-to-Action Event
Honors Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” PR ewswire (Source: SEIU Local 32BJ), January 14, 2008.
75
Proclamation available at
http://www.seiu6.org/docUploads/Seattle%20City%20Council%20Proclamation%20April%204th%20SO%20Appre
ciation%20Day.pdf
76
“Hundreds of Black Security Officers, NAACP, SCLC, Elected Leaders, Clergy, Community Groups from South
L.A. March, Rally for Freedom Over Poverty Conditions; Stand for Security Coalition to City’s Wealthiest
Corporate Landlords: ‘Freedom Can’t Wait!’” PR ewswire (Source: Stand for Security Coalition), June 30, 2006;
“Civil Rights Leaders, Security Officers, to Call on G.E. Real Estate/Arden Realty to Stop Racist Policies,” SEIU
press release, September 13, 2006, available at http://www.standforsecuritycoalition.com/docs/060913.pdf
77
http://www.standforsecuritycoalition.com/
78
For example, the Reverend Lewis Logan II, a coalition member, has stated, “Los Angeles’ corporate real estate
giants must agree to stop the separate and unequal treatment whereby janitors, parking lot attendants, window
washers and building engineers that are mostly Latino and white all earn decent wages with full family health care –
and security officers are the only group of service workers that are being left behind.”
(http://www.seiusoula2006.org/Los_Angeles_Security_Officers_Vote_To_Strike.aspx); see also
http://www.seiusoula2006.org/Jesse_Jackson__Civil_Rights_Leaders__Call_For_City_s_Real_Estate_Giants_To_E
nd_Double_Standards_That_Keep_Security_Officers_In_Poverty_Now.aspx

16
The SEIU has frequently used the corporate campaign as a tool against property owners

and security firms. The union has waged a particularly fierce campaign against the U.S.-based

security provider Wackenhut Corporation and its U.K. parent Group 4 Seguricor (G4S).79

Wackenhut, one of the largest security providers in the United States, has consistently refused to

allow SEIU representation of its workforce, citing section 9(b)(3) of the NLRA.80 In response,

the SEIU has actively publicized poor working conditions, security lapses, and other problems at

Wackenhut and G4S, and encouraged government officials to contract their security elsewhere.81

The two opponents have a legal history that dates back more than twenty years,82 and in recent

years have filed charges of unfair labor practices against one another with the NLRB.83 In

November 2007, Wackenhut filed racketeering charges against SEIU for coercive behavior

against the company in seeking to unionize its employees.84

(iv) Progress and Accomplishments


Stand for Security has made gains in several U.S. cities and metropolitan areas. Its first

victory came in the San Francisco Bay Area, when SEIU Local 24/7 won a four-year contract in

79
Although the SEIU has denied the characterization of its actions against Wackenhut as a corporate campaign,
there is little doubt that such is the case. “Wackenhut Files Racketeering Charges Over SEIU’s National Organizing
Efforts,” Daily Labor Report, November 5, 2007. Wackenhut, naturally, goes even further, calling it a
“misinformation campaign” with the underlying message being “let us unionize your workforce or we will destroy
your reputation.” (http://www.wsihq.com/SEIU.asp)
80
Thus, while section 9(b)(3) has generally not been an obstacle for the SEIU, it can still be invoked by employers
and other union opponents – such as property owners – in justifying their refusal to recognize and bargain with
SEIU-represented security guards (whether as a genuine concern or not).
81
The SEIU operates the “Eye on Wackenhut” and “Focus on G4S” media campaigns, similar in style to “Wal-Mart
Watch,” in which it participates. See http://www.eyeonwackenhut.com/ and http://www.focusong4s.org/.
82
Wackenhut Corp., 287 NLRB 374 (1987)
83
See, for example, 348 NLRB No. 93, available at
http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=4&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nlrb.gov%2Fshared_files%2FBoard%
2520Decisions%2F348%2Fv34893.pdf&ei=CCfPR_2_KaSaoQTSnOiZCw&usg=AFQjCNFCkSS0fxiLd1M4_Mue
A-C4KK7oqA&sig2=gla8rv9GltJF_uvBnzP3RQ
84
Daily Labor Report, November 5, 2007.

17
2003.85 The union reached a five-year renewal agreement with four area security providers in

December 2007 after a three-day strike in September, and with the help of federal mediation.

The contract gave 4,000 security guards a 27% wage increase and improved health care.86

In Minneapolis/St. Paul, SEIU Local 26 bargained its first union contract in 2004 with

five area firms, finalizing negotiations in early 2005.87 The three-year contract expired at the end

of 2007,88 and the local’s 750 or so security guards have been working without a contract since

that time as they negotiate a renewal.89 In February 2008, with bargaining stalled primarily over

the issue of affordable health care, several hundred guards participated in a one-day strike.

Mediated talks are expected to resume in March.90 Also in February, SEIU Local 6 and five

contractors tentatively agreed on a three-year contract, the first ever for the union’s 750 security

guards in the Seattle/Bellevue area.91

SEIU Local 615 began organizing security guards in Boston and Cambridge in early

2006.92 In November, security provider AlliedBarton—responding to pressure not only from the

SEIU but also from Harvard’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM)—agreed to recognize a

bargaining unit of guards working at Harvard University, whose once-unionized, in-house guard

85
Reaching a collective bargaining agreement may have been made easier by the fact that many of these security
guards already had a contract when IUSO merged with the SEIU in 2002. Julie N Lynem, “Guards call for higher
wages, more training,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 22, 2002.
86
George Raine, “Bay Area security guards get a contract they can live with,” San Francisco Chronicle, December
1, 2007.
87
Local 26’s website lists ABM, AlliedBarton, American, Securitas, and Viking as signatories
(http://www.seiu26.org/security/Default.aspx), although a sixth firm, Whelan, is also involved in renewal
negotiations. Barbara Kucera, “Twin Cities security officers vote overwhelmingly to authorize strike,” Workday
Minnesota, February 9, 2008.
88
The actual term of the contract is March 19, 2005 – January 31, 2007, per Article 24.1.
89
Kucera, February 9, 2008.
90
Lauretta Dawalo Towns, “Security officers strike for a living wage – and respect,” Minnesota Spokesman-
Recorder, February 27, 2008; Julie Forster, “Building security workers launch one-day strike,” Pioneer Press,
February 25, 2008.
91
Andrea James, “Security guards to get health care in new agreement,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 28,
2008.
92
Maria Cramer, “Drive set to unionize security guards: Officers in Boston, Cambridge affected,” Boston Globe,
February 15, 2006.

18
jobs had been contracted out to AlliedBarton in 2004.93 In June 2007, following a highly-

publicized nine-day student hunger strike in May in solidarity with the security guards, a contract

settlement was reached that provided a starting wage increase, escalating pay scale, new

grievance process, and other benefits.94

In New York, 1,100 security guards in SEIU Local 32BJ gained union recognition via

card check from Burns Security (a subsidiary of Securitas) in 200595 and negotiated a contract

the following year.96 In April 2007, more than 20 SEIU-represented security guards employed

by Guardsmark struck for one day to protest low wages and unfair labor practices.97 Amid other

organizing efforts and contract negotiations, the union is currently competing with Allied

International Union (AIU) over the representation of security guards employed by Summit

Security Services.98

In Washington, DC, another 1,200 security guards from Local 32BJ (District 82)

officially unionized in June 2007—also via card check—at three of the area’s largest security

firms.99 The parties have not yet negotiated a collective bargaining agreement, though the City

Council did pass a living wage ordinance in January 2008 that increases wages and benefits for

security guards.100

93
Stephanie S. Garlow, “For Guards, Union in Sight,” The Harvard Crimson, November 16, 2006.
94
Aditi Balakrishna, “Guards Score Long-Awaited Wage Increase,” The Harvard Crimson, June 22, 2007.
95
Steven Greenhouse, “Janitors’ Union Signs Up 1,100 Security Guards,” ew York Times, December 7, 2005.
96
http://www.seiu32bj.org/au/securitydivisionNY.asp
97
“Guardsmark Security Officers Strike in NY,” PR ewswire (Source: SEIU Local 32BJ), April 10, 2007. Local
32BJ had previously filed an unfair labor charge against Guardsmark in 2006. While the union cannot use the
NLRB to address the failure of employers to engage in good-faith collective bargaining, it can still use the Board to
enforce against many other types of unfair labor practices. “Guardsmark Narrowly Avoids Strike by Reinstating
Security Officer,” PR ewswire (Source: SEIU Local 32BJ), July 19, 2006.
98
http://alliedinternationalunion.com/contact_press_newsday.htm
99
“Security Companies Plan Talks With Union,” Washington Post, June 25, 2007.
100
The “Enhanced Professional Security Amendment Act of 2008” sets a minimum level of $11.51 in wages and
$3.16 in benefits for guards who work at private commercial office buildings. “New City Council Bill Raises
Wages for Thousands of Security Officers,” SEIU press release, January 8, 2008, available at
http://www.seiu32bj.org/ne/pr/PR_2008_0108.pdf. The legislation is available at
http://www.dccouncil.washington.dc.us/images/00001/20080122101252.pdf

19
Despite progress in New York and Washington, DC, however, Local 32BJ (District 36)

in Philadelphia has been less successful. The SEIU abandoned efforts in 2007 to unionize

AlliedBarton security guards working at Temple University and the University of

Pennsylvania.101 In September, the union tried to establish a bargaining unit for Wackenhut

employees who guard Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell by holding a secret ballot election

in which the guards voted 31-2 (with 15 abstentions) to join the union. However, because the

election was not NLRB-certified, Wackenhut will not recognize the unit.102 The SEIU, of

course, cannot legally challenge the company’s decision.

In Chicago, even before Stand for Security began, SEIU Local 1 represented more than

6,000 security guards working in such places as airports, chemical plants, and refineries.103

While the union continues to provide representation to large numbers of security guards, it has

not had any major organizing breakthroughs since the start of the movement. Campaign efforts

in both Chicago and Milwaukee (also within the jurisdiction of Local 1) have primarily targeted

Wackenhut, though so far unsuccessfully.104

SEIU Local 1877 faced early resistance in Los Angeles from the two largest downtown

property owners in its campaign to organize security guards.105 Robert Maguire, CEO of

Maguire Properties (MPG), which owned six office towers in the downtown area, opposed the

union campaign. Maguire’s support had been critical to the success of the janitors campaign in

101
Andrew Thompson, “A change of pace for security guard supporters,” The Temple ews, September 11, 2007.
102
Will Bunch, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of healthcare,” The Guardian, January 10, 2008.
103
Francine Knowles, “Security personnel to begin talks,” Chicago Sun-Times, November 20, 2001.
104
See John-David Morgan, “NAACP Backs Union Drive at Wackenhut,” South Central Federation of Labor:
Union Labor ews, August 2005, available at http://www.scfl.org/?ulnid=1090&highlight=backs, and SEIU Local 1
announcement of rally against Wackenhut scheduled for March 1, 2008 in Chicago, available at
http://www.seiu1.org/Rally_Against_Wackenhut.aspx
105
Maguire Properties was far and away the largest commercial property owner in downtown Los Angeles, owning
7.4 million square feet of office space in 2005 to Thomas Properties’ 2.6 million square feet. Andy Fixmer, “Who
owns downtown? While the landscape may be changing, the names have remained the same,” Los Angeles Business
Journal, March 28, 2005.

20
2000, but he did not want the janitors and security guards who worked together in his buildings

to both be represented by the SEIU. His opposition was based on federal labor relations law and

the potential divided loyalties argument.106 Jim Thomas, CEO of Thomas Properties (TPGI)—

the owner of three downtown office buildings—opposed unionization on similar grounds.107

However, initial progress was made when, responding to pressure from an important

investment partner,108 Thomas declared his neutrality in April 2005.109 After another year of

continued negotiations with the SEIU—aided by the involvement of Mayor Antonio

Villaraigosa—Maguire dropped his opposition as well,110 agreeing in April 2006 to recognize a

security guards union and help fund a training program in conjunction with the SEIU.111

Encouraged by this accord, which the SEIU hoped would establish a tone for the rest of the

106
More specifically, that security guards might walk off their jobs in the event of a janitors strike.
107
Nancy Cleeland, “Surprising Opposition to Effort to Organize Guards; A building owner who back janitors
doesn’t want security workers in the same union,” Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2004; Cara Mia DiMassa,
“Unionizing L.A. Guards Isn’t Easy; The Service Employees International drive is up against landlords who dislike
having janitors and guards in the same organization,” Los Angeles Times, September 17, 2005; Howard Fine,
“Thomas softens stance on guard union,” Los Angeles Business Journal, May 16, 2005.
108
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) is one of the largest public pension funds in
California, second only to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).
109
Fine, May 16, 2005. It appears that Thomas’s change of position was the result of a corporate campaign by the
SEIU against TPGI. CalSTRS was the limited partner in a joint venture owned with TPGI in downtown Los
Angeles (City National Plaza), and had previously adopted a “responsible contractor policy” that it asked its partners
to honor. CalSTRS’ April 2005 Investment Committee minutes references a recent complaint relating to this policy,
and present at the meeting to voice their concerns was a contingent led by SEIU organizing director Jono Shaffer.
Minutes available at
http://www.calstrs.com/About%20CalSTRS/Teachers%20Retirement%20Board/AGENDAS/BOD0605PDF/Invest
ments/ic0601.pdf
110
MPG was also the target of a corporate campaign. For example, in 2005 the SEIU sent a delegation to the
company’s annual shareholder meeting to complain about its refusal to recognize a union of security guards. It also
organized a group of community leaders across the country to lobby the investment company ING Clarion –
Maguire’s largest investor – to pressure its investees into allowing guards to unionize. In addition, the SEIU urged a
group of Australian investors not to enter into a joint venture with MPG, telling them that “Robert Maguire’s
governance is questionable and influenced by personal interest, the company has large debts, and its workforce
relations management is inept.” The SEIU also sent “MPG Monitor” newsletters to the company’s shareholders and
investors. “African American Community Leaders Call on Maguire Properties’ Largest Investor ING Clarion to
Protect Security Officers’ Civil Rights, Freedom,” PR ewswire (Source: SEIU), June 7, 2005; Kathryn House,
“Union warns against ‘risky’ partner,” The Australian Financial Review, July 14, 2005; Fine, May 16, 2005.
111
Andrew Moyle, “Downtown Security Guards to Unionize: SEIU and Maguire Properties Reach Agreement for
300 Workers,” Los Angeles Downtown ews, April 17, 2006.

21
commercial real estate industry, the union continued to organize security guards and push for

union recognition from other Los Angeles property owners.

In November, the SEIU secured a tentative neutrality pledge from the Building Owners

and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles (BOMA),112 the trade organization

representing much of the commercial real estate industry in and around the city.113 The union

then reached a formal card check agreement in January 2007 with BOMA and five of the largest

private security firms in Los Angeles: American Commercial Security Services (a subsidiary of

ABM), AlliedBarton, Guard Systems, Securitas, and Universal Protection Service. The

agreement facilitated the SEIU’s efforts to organize security guards and included language that

would trigger union recognition and collective bargaining when a majority of guards signed

authorization cards. The scope of the pact—office buildings in Los Angeles County with 75,000

square feet or more—stood to cover several thousand guards.114

In May, when the SEIU signed up enough security guards to warrant union recognition

per the terms of its agreement with the security contractors, it established SOULA 2006.115 The

new local included approximately 4,000 members for whom the union could negotiate a

112
Roger Vincent and Joe Mathews, “Owners to let guards unionize,” Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2006.
113
By its own account, BOMA represents over 144 million square feet of real estate in Greater Los Angeles.
(http://www.bomagla.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=352) This tentative agreement came on the
heels of increased pressure from the Stand for Security Coalition, which just a week earlier launched a website to
publicize the “racism” of several of BOMA’s member companies. “African American Civil Rights Leaders, Clergy
Protest What They Say are L.A. Commercial Landlords’ Discriminatory Policies against Security Officers; Building
Owners and Managers Association of Greater Los Angeles (BOMA-GLA) Focus of New Website
www.stopBOMAdiscrimination.org,” Business Wire, November 9, 2006.
114
Howard Fine, “Labor pains for building owners: SEIU deal clears way for security guards to organize,” Los
Angeles Business Journal, January 22, 2007.
115
John Spano, “Mayor celebrates with newly unionized guards,” Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2007. Forming a
separate local for security guards, rather than incorporating them into Local 1877 with the janitors, was an important
concession the SEIU made to Robert Maguire in 2006. Fine, January 22, 2007. To address similar concerns among
property owners, it is the union’s policy to include no-strike clauses in all security guard contracts.
(http://www.standforsecurity.org/faq/) Article 17.1 of the Minneapolis/St. Paul contract, for example, states, “There
shall be no strikes, lockouts, picketing, work stoppages, slowdowns, or sympathy strikes, nor shall there by any
attempted interference with or disruption of the business of the Company and/or its relationships with or the
business of its tenants or their contractors, including boycotts, public appeals or demonstrations of any kind, hand
billing or leafleting, during the term of this agreement.”

22
collective bargaining agreement. Contract talks between the SEIU and the contractors, with the

participation of BOMA, began soon thereafter.116

Following several months of bargaining, amid SEIU charges of foot-dragging and bad-

faith negotiating, union members voted in October to authorize a strike if sufficient progress

could not be made,117 and in November rallied to support their cause.118 The difficult

negotiations continued and, helped along by pressure from building owners such as Maguire to

come to terms,119 in January 2008 the parties reached a five-year master agreement that raises

wages and benefits by about 40% and provides opportunities for career advancement.120 Five

days later, the union’s membership ratified the contract.121 With this agreement in place, the

SEIU plans to continue its drive to organize security guards throughout Los Angeles County.122

4. Conclusion
Stand for Security has come a long way since 2002. With its string of recent victories in

San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle—and a new contract likely on the way in

116
Per SOULA 2006 website:
http://www.seiusoula2006.org/Baptist_Ministers__Civil_Rights_Leaders__Unite_Behind_Security_Officers__Contr
act_Effort.aspx
117
This vote came shortly after the September strike in San Francisco, which SOULA 2006 President Faith
Culbreath cites as a pivotal factor in the progress of the Los Angeles contract talks. Khalil, January 21, 2008.
118
Molly Selvin, “Security guards’ rally to push contract talks,” Los Angeles Times, November 1, 2007.
119
“Los Angeles; Largest Corporate Real Estate Owners Announce Support for SEIU Security Officers’ Contract
with Higher Wages and Family Healthcare; The Blackstone Group, Jamison Services, Maguire Properties Urge
Their Security Contractors to Settle Contract Without Delay,” Business Wire, November 29, 2007. Meanwhile, the
SEIU campaigned against General Electric’s Arden Realty, one of the final remaining holdouts on the real estate
side of the negotiations. “General Electric Emerges as Key Outlier in Contract Talks for SEIU Security Officers and
WGA; SEIU, WGA, Community Leaders, Students to March, Rally, and ‘Bring G.E.’s Bad Things to Light,’”
Business Wire, December 14, 2007.
120
Susan R. Hobbs, “Los Angeles Guards’ Tentative First Contract Would Increase Wages, Benefits 40 Percent,”
Daily Labor Report, January 24, 2008.
121
“Security Officers Ratify Historic Union Contract in Los Angeles,” SEIU press release, January 26, 2008,
available at http://www.seiusoula2006.org/Admin/Assets/AssetContent/d8711d54-cfae-4b45-8336-
7e66f1a8eb95/546bfa9e-94e2-495f-9d30-54cc81f55e47/a733d3c9-1d9e-465f-8938-
acb49b23ad99/1/FINAL%20SOULA%20contract%20RELEASE%201.26.08.pdf
122
SOULA 2006 seeks to organize around 10,000 security guards in the Los Angeles area, including those who
work in hospitals, shopping malls, and elsewhere. Fine, January 22, 2007.

23
Minneapolis—the campaign is clearly energized. Despite its momentum, however, challenges

lie ahead. A depressed commercial real estate market could change the economic dynamics of

the industry in ways unfavorable to the SEIU. Robert Maguire, a key ally of the union, is facing

pressure from MPG investors to sell his company or step down as CEO.123 Though security

guards have recently won a contract in Los Angeles, new ownership or management of

Maguire’s properties could have negative ramifications. Broader industry trends may also

impact the continuing campaign in unpredictable ways.

The security guards campaign movement is still young and has much room to grow.

However, its expansion may ultimately be limited by a variety of factors. While the campaign

has benefited from the consolidation of the commercial real estate and private security industries,

in addition to strong community support in urban areas, organizing security guards in suburban

and rural areas would likely be much more difficult. Similarly, attempts to organize security

guards employed by smaller, less profitable contractors with a more diverse client base would be

difficult as well, because such contractors may be less susceptible to pressure from the union and

their clients. Security guards who do not work for contractors at all would probably be nearly

impossible for the SEIU to organize, due to the union’s inability to force recognition through

NLRB-certified elections.

It is far too premature to predict with any certainty how Stand for Security will progress

beyond the short term. Nevertheless, though outside the scope of this paper, the best predictor of

its longer-term future may actually be the developments and fortunes of its more mature sister

campaign, Justice for Janitors. Section 9(b)(3) aside, the janitors campaign faces many of the

same issues and potential limitations, and may thus set the tone for a similar approach to the

security guards campaign as it evolves over time.


123
Roger Vincent, “Another bid for Maguire reported,” Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2008.

24