Students Rally for Security Officers

Competing Unions Give Opposing Views


Published: Febrary 14, 2008

FORDHAM—Dozens of students, clergy members and security officers gathered outside the McGinley Campus Center on Feb. 7 to rally in support of better wages and working conditions for Fordham security officers.

Demonstrators say that Fordham security officers, who are employed by Summit Security Services, are treated unjustly by their elected representative, Allied International Union. However, half of the security officers have voluntarily expressed their desire to continue to be represented by Allied, according to information provided by Fordham’s legal counsel.

William Brode, FCRH ’08, who helped lead the rally for security officers last week, also helped organize a Workers’ Rights Board hearing on Jan. 30, which allowed security officers to testify about their experience as a Summit employee.

“The Workers’ Rights Board really showed that Allied hasn’t been an effective advocate for the workers,” Brode said. He added that the better option for security officers is SEIU Local 32BJ, a competing union that has made itself present on campus.

“They are well-organized and they seem committed,” Brode said. “They have resources to bargain efficiently, and they have a better democratic structure than Allied.”

The information provided, however, states that security officers have a higher pay range per hour under Allied than they would under Local 32BJ. The pay range for contract guards at Fordham is $10.85 to $12.60 per hour and the pay range for SEIU 32BJ guards is $10.25 to $12.25 per hour.

Ronnie Sykes, a spokeswoman for Local 32BJ, released a statement about the allegations. “Security officers are on the front lines of keeping the Fordham University community safe, and these hard-working men and women deserve decent wages and benefits so they can support themselves and their families.”

“I currently stand with Allied,” said Eddie Bolden, a security officer at Fordham for more than 14 years. “[Allied] hasn’t done anything wrong to me. If anything, they’ve been truthful and honest with me, and all I can say is 32BJ is not in the best interest for the guards here. They are about destroying contracts or [they are] for their own political gain.”

However, Bolden admitted that some of his colleagues might not agree. Fordham received documents from 75 security officers who favored Allied as opposed to 28 security officers who favored representation by Local 32BJ.

At last week’s rally, demonstrators marched to the office of the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham, to deliver a report containing the grievances of several security officers.

According to Dennis Devaney, legal counsel for Allied and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, only Fordham’s security officers have the exclusive right to choose their union representation. The officers would have to vote to deauthorize Allied as their union representative, he said.

The only decision Fordham can make is whether or not to change security contractors. The Observer has learned from several sources that Fordham has decided to terminate their contract with Summit as of June 30, though an official statement has not been released at press time.

If a new contractor becomes the successor, since Allied is the incumbent union and has the collective bargaining agreement that runs for another two years, Local 32BJ cannot be recognized, Devaney said. “If a new contract hires 51 percent of the current employees, [Allied] is the incumbent union, and they have to comply with that.”

According to a statement released last October, “Fordham is not directly involved in the dispute between Summit, SEIU and Allied International Union… Fordham welcomes the campus community’s interest in any issue that affects the university, particularly on issues of social justice.” No further statement has been released as of press time.