Working People vs. Credit Card Fees: Security Officers Protest Unfair Pay System at U.S. Security Associates


Security officers in New York are taking on the financial industry and its seemingly endless fees by standing up to U.S. Security Associates’ newly introduced — and deeply unfair — payroll practices.

Officers of U.S. Security Associates (USSA) are protesting a new pay card system they say is taking hard-earned wages right out of their pockets. The private security contractor imposed the system on its employees in New York City without the workers’ consent, and officers have started incurring high fees taken from their already modest earnings.

“We did not have any say when they decided to give us our paychecks by pay cards,” Kenesha Henry, an officer from Brooklyn and a single mother with a four-year-old daughter, said. “No discussion. They gave it to us and we just had to accept it.”

The shift to pay cards is a dangerous sign of companies aligning with Wall Street banks, which have time and time again shown zero obligation to seeing the average American succeed.

Pay card systems have plenty of benefits for a company’s profits — but not for its employees. Pay cards take the financial risk off of the employer and puts it onto the employee and his or her family. They can easily be stolen, and can come with high fees for simple things like inquiring account balances and withdrawing funds. This forces many workers to withdraw all of their pay at once, leaving them vulnerable to being robbed, or unable to maintain a savings account or pay certain types of bills.

Luis Pena, an officer from the Bronx, was suspended from work without two days pay for protesting USSA’s new policy. “They came in unannounced with a mandatory card, something we did not want,” Pena said. “The pay card and all the fees they charge are unfair.”

New York City Council Members have spoken up in support of the officers, urging USSA to listen to the concerns of its employees. “This is about dignity and respect in the workplace,” Councilman Brad Lander of Brooklyn said. “Imposing a pay system like this that takes their hard-earned money out of their pockets is not a way to show you respect your employees.”

American workers in low-wage industries already struggle to support their families, pay bills and save enough money to make ends meet. They shouldn’t have their own earnings taken from them by the financial firms that have crippled our nation’s economy.

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