Fordham Responds to Controversy Over Labor Practices


Published: October 11, 2007

In this issue of the Observer, an Opinions article entitled “Unethical Labor Practices at Fordham?” addresses an issue concerning Fordham’s security guards and the alleged low wages and poor benefits offered to them by their labor union, Allied International Union.

Fordham’s security guards are employed by Summit Security Services, who provide the guards with representation from Allied International.

According to John Carroll, director of security at Fordham, Allied International and a competing labor union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 32BJ, are “fighting for memberships.”

A recent article published in the Fordham Ram states that SEIU Local 32BJ said many Fordham security guards are “facing financial hardships.” The article also states that SEIU Local 32BJ has been urging Fordham to change its security service.

MaryBeth Stafford, vice president of Allied International, wrote in a letter addressed to The Ram, “For the past two years, SEIU has gone on a smear campaign of Allied International.” Stafford also said Fordham’s security guards are already making more than SEIU’s starting rate and that SEIU’s monthly dues are “excessively higher than any union in the country.”

The Observer spoke with Carroll about Fordham’s stance on the issue.

The Observer: Why does Fordham use an outside security contractor rather than hire security guards in house?

John Carroll: We do that for a variety of reasons, mostly because we need the flexibility. During the year, we need the maximum amount of personnel, but in May, we need far less personnel. Lincoln Center is not a good example because Lincoln Center has security 24/7 on all of the doors.


THE Observer: Why did Fordham choose to use Summit Security?

JC: We went out to all guard companies in the New York metro area, and all of the 17 companies had a bid. Summit has the most cost effective bid.

THE Observer: In light of the criticisms that are being voiced, is Fordham considering switching security contractors?

JC: First of all, the only controversy here is who is going to take better care of individual contract guards… Under Summit Security, the guards here are paid higher than most other places per hour. You have to look at what is the prevalent rate. They are paid more here at Fordham than Columbia.

THE Observer: Is Fordham familiar with the details of the pay rate and benefits that the guards receive?

JC: Fordham is aware of the benefits. They have been in the process of working with Summit and Allied to improve hospitalization benefits. These are two unions [Allied International and SEIU 32BJ] who are fighting for memberships. Allied charges $15 per week in dues, and [32BJ] charges $45 for dues per week. These are all significant numbers. Every dollar counts.

THE Observer: What does Fordham think about some guards saying that they are forced to pay for healthcare out of their own pockets?

JC: If the guard is paying out of his pocket for healthcare, he is not utilizing it. If he wants to do that, it’s his choice. I can tell you that I had a meeting with 35 guards, and one of the guards said that he has high blood pressure and when he gets all of his medication, it costs absolutely nothing… We just want to do what is absolutely fair and right and just. That’s why we are negotiating strongly with Summit and Allied.

THE Observer: Are you aware of the violations that Summit has been charged with since 2002?

JC: Absolutely not. That may or may not be true…If the unions can’t represent [the security guards], how are they going to help them? Fordham has no position one way or another… we just want to make sure they are all treated fairly and justly.