NY Security Officer Winslow Pakeman: “Because of the stability my union brings to my job, I was comfortable to move to a better neighborhood, into a house with a back yard.”
New York City Security Officer Winslow Pakeman is very clear about his priorities. “You work for your family. You don’t work for money.” He’s also very clear on the many ways that his union has helped him achieve a better life for his family. “Because of the stability of this job, I was comfortable to move to a better neighborhood, into a house with a back yard.”
“Even if you work for a good company that’s nonunion, it can’t compare to being a union security officer. When I was an account manager for a small nonunion security company, we had a guard that had graduated from Columbia University working for $9 an hour.”
When Winslow compares that to the $21.25 that he’s paid, then considers the healthcare he has for himself, his wife and kids, and other benefits like paid sick days, holidays, vacation and a 401(k) retirement plan, he says, “There’s no comparison.”
Winslow looks out for the interests of his company and the safety of clients. “We diffuse problems before they come up.” In his role as a Fire Safety Director for Universal Protection Service, he explains, “There’s always a new challenge, which is good. It’s not a boring job.”
This was especially true in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. “We’re at the cusp of the East River and the Hudson River. Security played a vital role. Crews are working on the building. When there’s no power, you have to establish that. When a pipe ruptures, I partition off the area for pedestrians, and meet with the engineering team.”
Luckily, the healthcare that he and his coworkers won in their union contract also allows Winslow to manage the little emergencies in his own life. “I have sleep apnea, and after trying a couple of treatments, I’m able to sleep a lot better now. And the years I spent working in retail did their toll on my feet. But our union healthcare plan covers a podiatrist, so for the first time in ages, I was able to wear flip flops, when I went to Mexico this winter.” Winslow believes that working people, not just the rich few, should have access to the good life. That’s why he and his coworkers negotiated paid vacation into their union contract.
Winslow is still excited about the vacation that he and his wife took to Mexico and Belize. He describes Mayan ruins, a tequila tour, and “the most beautiful place I’ve ever been: San Pedro, Belize. It’s the island Madonna sings about in ‘La Isla Bonita.’”
Besides vacation time with his wife, Winslow appreciates having a consistent work schedule, and credits the union with giving him more time to spend with his sons, Justin and Anthony.
Winslow is a strong advocate and very active with his local union, participating in contract bargaining, rallies and his political program. Now Winslow is turning his attention to security officers working to form unions in other cities, with this advice: “Being part of a union is the best move you can possibly make for yourself and your family. It may be a struggle, but you have to stick it out, for the quality of your life, and for your family’s life.”