“I just stepped out on faith because I was tired.”
Los Angeles security officer Marquette Gibson retired after 42 years of full time work. After working in the security industry for 21 years, and in a county office for twenty years before that, it’s time for Marquette to benefit from her decades of hard work.
But her story isn’t that simple.
“I didn’t get a pension,” Marquette says. “I just stepped out on faith because I was tired. My body was wore down. I didn’t have a big choice in the matter.”
Marquette still works three days a week to supplement her social security earnings. She works three different posts at a large hospital in Los Angeles County, where her security contractor pays her $13.25 an hour to protect the hospital and direct patients and their guests to the emergency room or their appointments. “They gave me good posts,” she says. “I get to talk to a lot of people.”
It’s a good thing she enjoys her job so much, because she may need to return to full time work one day. “As the years go on, I may need to go back to full time, but I just can’t do that yet,” she says. “I’ve been working since I was 19. It took a toll on me.”
In the meantime, Marquette’s financial situation is rough.
“I’ll have to make cutbacks,” she says. Marquette is cancelling some of the healthcare coverage she bought, and making other difficult choices.
“I won’t buy as many groceries,” she says.
“It’s fixin’ to be who’s gonna get paid. It used to be you could pay everyone. Now it’s the most important bill.”
She’s also considering a move to subsidized senior housing, even though she doesn’t want that kind of change in her home. “I’ve always lived in a house or a duplex, never an apartment building,” she says. “But it’d save money.”
Now Marquette wants to change the security industry so that other officers have a better foundation to prepare for retirement. That’s why she’s organizing her union with her co-workers.
“Everyone would be able to take better care of themselves and their families,” she says. “Their houses wouldn’t be run-down. They would meet their needs better if they made more money and had healthcare and retirement benefits.”