DETROIT - Security workers at some of the biggest buildings in Downtown Detroit walked off the job Thursday and picked up picket signs.
Workers are angry about what they call low wages, few benefits and a company they believe is blocking their attempts to unionize.
There are about 140 security officers working downtown. They work for SecurAmerica, though they do their jobs mostly in Bedrock buildings. They want union representation and better working conditions, so they rallied to get them.
They called the rally an "unfair labor practices strike," but the company said there are no pending unfair labor charges.
The Service Employees International Union is backing the security guards in their fight.
Guard Delores McNichols said after 12 years on the job, she's always on the financial edge.
"I can't afford to buy a vehicle to get to work," McNichols said. "That is unacceptable when you realize I'm security in a billion-dollar building."
Guard Darian Stevens said the company is firing those who support a union card program.
"We want to be respected," Stevens said. "That's the bottom line. We come in and put ourselves at risk. Why are we being treated like the dirt scraped off someone's shoe."
The company's human services director put out the following statement:
"SecurAmerica prides itself on providing a fair and respectful work environment with a competitive wage and benefit package and opportunities for advancement for all employees.
"The vast majority of our security officers in Downtown Detroit enjoy the direct relationship they have with our management and they have no interest in being represented by any third party.
"The SEIU is not the legal representative of any SecurAmerica employees, and therefore, it has no authority to call a strike or tell employees they should not show up for work."
Wayne County Commissioner Tim Kileen was at the rally Thursday. He said he did the math, and if the company paid $15 an hour, it would cost a total of about $5,000 per year.
There were no disruptions in business downtown as a result of the protest on Thursday.
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