The Financial District is Still the Best Place to Protest for Fair Wages


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Joseph Geha
Security workers march through downtown SF on Wednesday, June 5.

A sea of purple T-shirts was crowding downtown San Francisco as hundreds of union security workers marched through the streets to bring attention to their contract negotiations with security and janitorial contracting companies ABM Security and Universal Protection Service (UPS).

While the march and contract negotiations only deal with the security officers from the Service Employees International Union (more specifically the local members of United Service Workers West), janitorial workers from the same unions who work for the same companies were out in support.

There were also plenty of organizers from other cities and regions, assisting with the rallying and bullhorn-ing throughout the FiDi this afternoon, nearly all of them clad in the standard deep purple shirts, many clutching picket signs.

While the march maintained relative calm, there were more than 100 SFPD officers present alongside the marching workers as they weaved through the streets, according to a police estimate.

The local employees of these unions have been without an official contract since the end of last year, and they believe this is the time to push for better wages and more benefits.

According to Kevin O'Donnell, a spokesperson for the SEIU, many of these employees work at the 555 California St. building, otherwise known as the Bank of America Center. These security companies subcontract maintenance and security workers to national companies.

O'Donnell says with the cost of living rising in the city, these workers are trying to ensure that they are treated fairly, and for them, that means securing a contract that includes regular raises and increased benefits.

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Joseph Geha

Contract negotiations between the two sides failed to bear fruit in late May, and today they resumed.

Markus Ryan of the Sunset works as a security officer at 555 California, and was along for the march.

Right now he says he makes about $19.60 per hour, and says if UPS and ABM cut his wage, he wont be able to afford to work or park in the city.

Shouting over the drums and his fellow marchers, Jerry David Longoria, who works for UPS, says "I deserve more!" Longoria lives in a single room occupancy building, with neither a personal kitchen or bathroom.

No word yet on what the results, if any, of today's talks will be. Representatives for ABM and UPS could not be immediately reached for comment.


UPDATE:

By the end of yesterday afternoon's marching and civil disobedience display, nine protestors and organizers had been arrested after blocking the intersection at First and Market Streets. No injuries were reported.

On the contract front, no agreements were reached as talks continued through the night, and the security officers and their employers have returned to the bargaining table this morning to continue the dialogue, presumably over coffee and donuts.

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