Illinois Security Officer Charles Ware on the Union Difference
Thirty-year-old Charles Ware is always thinking about how to make things better – for his family, his co-workers, and his community. That’s why he applied to work for Universal Protection Service as a union security officer.
“The union was the draw that made me take the job. I saw a significant difference in the wages offered, compared to non-union outfits.”
Charles works at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois, and loves his job. “The museum gets visitors from all over the country, and all over the world. I might see people from France, Brazil, Nigeria. It can get hectic during the tour season, with up to 2,500 people in the building.”
In his first year on the job, Charles was selected as a union steward for his site, and has already helped one co-worker resolve an important issue. “She was having trouble with one of the managers. Now that we’ve gone through the process, her job is back to normal, and there’s no tension. She’s all smiles.”
Charles knows that having a process to resolve disputes is one of the biggest benefits of having a union.
“Making a steady income is always good, to be earning and to contribute significantly to the household income. Being part of a union gives you job security. You can’t just be fired for no reason. There’s a process to follow. Knowing that things can’t be railroaded through is a comfort to me.”
Even so, Charles emphasizes that there’s still much more to be done, to continue raising standards for security officers.
“What I’m paid may be more than a lot of security jobs pay, but it’s still not enough for someone who might be risking their life every day. The security officer is the first person in the bank to be targeted, and the first line of defense, since officers get dispatched to deal with all the problems. Our lives are worth more than the $20K a year that a lot of officers take home.”
Like all workers, Charles wears more than one hat. He’s a father focused on the future of his three daughters and a stalwart member of his community. “I’m working on building a family business, so that I have something to leave for my kids. I’m going to invest in the areas that the big chains don’t, so that residents of ‘at risk’ and impoverished areas have access to what they need, within walking distance of their homes. This is especially important for the elderly.”
But unions are about more than just bread. They’re about roses, too. That is, workers should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. For Charles, this means getting away to his favorite city: New Orleans. He and his wife are looking forward to using paid vacation time from his union contract to travel there this summer, for the Essence Fest. “We’ve been to New Orleans before, and we love the culture – jazz, blues, Creole food, and great entertainment.”