Cheryl Nelson, Sound Transit Officer: “I consider myself a second pair of eyes for the police.”
As a security officer working at Seattle’s regional transit authority–Sound Transit–Cheryl Nelson protects people and property every day.
“I check 10 to 12 sites each day,” Cheryl says. “I go to parking lots, check for graffiti, make sure there’s no vandalism of cars, broken windows, break-ins, things like that. And I make sure that there are no fights going on and there are no suspicious people around.”
The public appreciates the work she does. “I consider myself a second pair of eyes for the police,” Cheryl says. “I enjoy being out with the public, helping people, being a presence. People thank me for being there. They appreciate it. It makes them feel more comfortable.”
After two years on the job, Cheryl, an employee of Sweden-based multinational Securitas, decided she and her coworkers needed some protection too.
“We joined SEIU and it’s been a huge help to us,” Cheryl says. “By cooperating with each other we’ve been able to win a lot more than we would have won as individuals.”
What protections have Cheryl and her coworkers won? “We’ve got guaranteed raises for five years,” Cheryl says. “I’m up to $16.35 an hour and that helps me keep up with things. Groceries have been going up and gas is at three dollars a gallon in Seattle. But thanks to the raises I can pay my bills and save some.”
Sound Transit security officers have also won stronger health coverage. “The company’s paying 85 per cent of medical costs but soon they’ll be paying 95 per cent,” Cheryl says. “They’ll also be covering spouses and dependents. With the cost of healthcare going up every year, this is important. It’s one less thing for me to worry about. I know if I get sick, I’m covered.”
Forming a union with her coworkers has really turned things around for Cheryl. She thinks that if more workers had a union, things would turn around for our economy too. “How are people supposed to pay for things?” Cheryl asks. “People need to have good wages so they can take care of themselves and their families. Once they do, things will improve.”