The following is from SEIU Local 6:
SEATTLE (April 3, 2017) — On Friday, March 31, security officers came together with labor, community supporters, and service workers to demand that Amazon deliver to Seattle’s working families and hold their contractors accountable.
Security officers and their allies called on Amazon to adopt a responsible contractor policy that would give service workers a fair path to form a union. Amazon has adopted such policies for janitorial contractors who clean the campus; the rally called for the same action for officers and other service workers on site.
The more than 800 officers who guard Amazon are directly employed by Security Industry Specialists — a contractor that has come under fire for its treatment of employees. Security workers say they haven’t seen a cost-of-living raise in four years, and that they experience favoritism and unfair treatment around race and religious practices.
“When I was at SIS, I had to work two jobs just to make ends meet,” said former SIS security officer Jamila Culcleasure. “But being in a union, I can work one job. I can be with my family. I can go back to school. I have more freedom. SIS needs to do better. I have friends who are here at SIS for over four years and they have the same pay. And they‘re afraid to call out because they could get in trouble.”
In 2015, there was a federal investigation where SIS settled allegations that it interfered with officers’ rights to form a union at Amazon HQ and settled charges with the city of Seattle over complaints of violating the city’s sick time law at the tech campus.
SIS security officers and supporters, including tech workers and religious leaders, have reached out to SIS and Amazon on many occasions to address these concerns — office visits, emails and a petition calling for wage increases and a fair process to unionize signed by over 300 officers. But nothing has changed.
SEIU Local 6 gathered more than 1,000 signatures from Seattle area union security officers and janitors who protect and clean high tech campuses, in solidarity with SIS officers’ struggle to form a union.
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant called on workers and supporters to expand the fight.
“We live in a city that is obscene in its wealth and yet every day it grows more unaffordable for the rest of us, the 99%,” Sawant said. “The man who owns Amazon is now the second-wealthiest man in the entire world. It is absolutely unacceptable that in such a wealthy, growing city, where we have the world’s richest human beings, that we should have rent skyrocketing and life basically unlivable.”
King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove highlighted labor unions’ role in maintaining a middle class.
“I came out here because the labor movement is the backbone of the middle class in this country,” he said. “We have a growing gap between the haves and the have-nots, and if we want to have a healthy middle class, it means organizing and supporting labor unions.”
SEIU Local 6 represents more than 4,000 janitors, security officers, and allied industries workers in Washington state. Learn more here.