Philadelphia Community Leaders Celebrate the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Stand Up For Economic Justice in the Security Industry
At a rally held in Philadelphia on Martin Luther King Day, elected leaders and community members joined security officers to kick off a new effort to improve standards in Philadelphia’s security industry. More than 300 supporters gathered to discuss how better security jobs and greater public safety can help communities struggling in a poor economy.
“As a matter of public safety, security officers who protect thousands of working Philadelphians and college students should have the necessary training to do their work effectively,” said Pennsylvania Congressman Chaka Fattah. “Providing these brave men and women with family-sustaining wages is a good business practice that reduces job turnover and keeps officers off costly public programs.”
The rally honored the spirit and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by bringing together religious leaders, elected officials and anti-poverty leaders who believe that strengthening the community starts with economic justice for Philadelphia’s working families.
Soloman Leach, reporting on Martin Luther King Day events in the Philadelphia Metro, writes:
…Some of the most impassioned speech occurred at First Unitarian Church, where security workers from across the city spoke out for their civil rights… Kobra Oden stood in front of union workers, living-wage advocates and politicians, tearful as she described her struggle as a private security guard in the city for six years. No health care, no sick days and a $0.35 cent raise to boot.
Kobra, a single mother of three, spoke to the crowd about being unable to provide for her family or pay her bills on the wages she makes as an officer at a local hospital. She spent her early morning hours before her work shift handing out flyers to spread the word about the group’s fight for better Philadelphia jobs. “We need better wages to be able provide security for our families and better training so we’re best prepared to handle emergencies,” she explains.
With more than 18,000 officers in the Philadelphia area, the private security industry is a quickly growing sector that could add more than 125,000 jobs nationally over the next several years.
The officers’ effort to raise industry standards comes as the City of Philadelphia has slashed funding to its police department. Without higher standards, it is unlikely that the private security industry in Philadelphia will be able to take up the slack. Because of insufficient training regulations and pervasive cost scrimping, many officers are not given the proper training they need to adequately protect Philadelphia’s banks, corporations, large buildings and universities.