Philadelphia Security Officer Kevin Upshaw at ASIS 2013 in Chicago: “There should be good jobs for vets because of what they’ve gone through for our country.”
Philadelphia security officer Kevin Upshaw–a member of 32BJ-SEIU–is in Chicago this week urging attendees of ASIS 2013 to support good jobs for our nation’s veterans.
The ASIS International 59th Annual Seminar and Exhibits (ASIS 2013) is the security industry’s largest networking event, attracting more than 20,000 security professionals from around the world.
Kevin, a veteran of the U.S. Army, is joining fellow veterans from the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Air Force at ASIS to highlight the problems of veterans working in the security industry. More than one in five security officers in the United States are veterans.
By forming a union, Kevin and his co-workers–including hundreds of veterans–won big gains in 2012 for themselves, their families, and their communities.
An eight-year security veteran, Kevin served his country honorably. “I was in the Army for eight years,” Kevin says. “Service members put their lives in various types of situations that sometimes get overlooked. But I think the most important thing was that they really took care of us.”
Kevin is happy the security industry hires so many veterans. “They tend to hire service members quicker,” he says. “I think that’s good. Veterans are disciplined and they can adjust to different situations easier,” he says.
But due to low wages, few–if any–benefits, unpredictable schedules, and little paid time off, security jobs often fail to provide the sense of protection that Kevin felt in the military–a feeling of security he now enjoys under his union contract.
Kevin served on the negotiations committee that won a historic victory for 2,500 Philadelphia security officers last December. The four-year union contract he and his co-workers won improved wages and benefits for officers who protect commercial office buildings, universities, hospitals, and other institutions in the city. Most officers are seeing their hourly wages increase from between $8 and $11 per hour to between $10.45 and $13 by the contract’s expiration in 2016.
“Now our job security is greatly improved,” Kevin says.
Veterans working in security deserve no less. “There should be good jobs for Vets because of what they’ve gone through for our country,” Kevin says.