New York Security Officer Melissa Colón: “I’m grateful for my union. I’m paid more than $20 an hour, and have health insurance for myself and my daughter.”
As a new mother, New York security officer Melissa Colon thinks about what she needs to support her 1-year-old daughter, Cianna Lee. Good wages, healthcare, job security, and paid time off top her list. And every time she thinks about these things, she reflects on how being a union member allows her to provide them.
Melissa as been active in her union for four years, and wouldn’t have it any other way. “When you’re a part of the union, they talk to you like you’re a human being. They respect you. Not only that, but you can’t get fired for dumb things. You have someone that backs you up.”
As a union member, Melissa was able to take classes to get certified in fire safety and training. She’s now a Fire Safety Director for Universal Protection Service.
“I’m very grateful for my union. I’m paid more than $20 an hour. I have health insurance for myself and my daughter. I work with 80 percent men, but they’re very supportive. When I was pregnant, having a union allowed me to change my healthcare plan. The plan paid for all of my prenatals, and I didn’t have any co-pays for my doctor’s visits. I had a 24-hour nurse hotline for questions, and they called to check up on me.”
Melissa is more than just grateful. She’s also giving back to her fellow union members and community, both as a steward for her building and as a leader in making the City a better place to live.
“I wear my union pin every day, because I’m proud to be part of something bigger than myself. When the mayoral race was going on, we discussed it, and met to decide who we wanted to see as our new mayor. The candidates came, and they were looking for our support. We’re a big deal.
“You have to fight in this world. Everybody deserves to be treated fairly. If you work 40 hours a week, and you’re at the building every day, you should have healthcare. You should get a vacation.”
Melissa has seen her hard work pay off, allowing her to spend quality time with Cianna Lee. Besides five sick days and two personal days, Melissa and her coworkers have won paid vacation, which increases with seniority.
“It’s because of our union that I’m able to take off for two weeks and get paid for it. In September, I took my 1-year-old daughter on her very first road trip, to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We had a great time. It was her first vacation.”
Melissa knows how good it is for security officers to have time off. “You feel appreciated when you’re able to go on vacation. I break it up. It’s good to get away from New York City twice a year.
“Happy security officers mean safer buildings. If guards are treated fairly, we’ll go the extra mile. And when they see that we’re organized, they trust us more. Our site supervisor is having back surgery, and will be out for a month. They trust us to take care of the building without him.” When you keep experienced officers on the job, they know their job so well that they can continue despite adversity, and are trusted equal partners in the enterprise. Melissa and her coworkers are poised to protect their building, come what may.