Can security officers bring stability to San Diego?
“I keep everything together,” he says. “I’ve been in charge of 7 or 8 other officers, done the schedules, programmed the tenants’ key fobs, done the paperwork for the elevators and the fire alarms. All of that has been my job.”
Yet his employer only pays Eduardo $11.25 an hour.
“My biggest concern is paying the rent on time,” he says, “with all the other bills I have.” Eduardo can recite those bills by heart: $375 for rent, a $346 car payment, another $105 for health insurance through the state, $88 for his student loan…then there’s the car insurance, phone, and groceries.
“My check is $360 a week, so it’s one or two bills per check,” he says.
“I owe a good $10,000 on my student loan. Last year, I had trouble making some payments on time, because I was helping my sister out. She has disabilities, can’t work, and sometimes needs help to support her daughter, who turned four this year.”
“The missed loan payments threw me off,” he says. “I’m trying to make extra payments now to make up for it.”
Low wages and a lack of union representation in San Diego’s security industry cause this kind of instability for far too many officers.
Eduardo’s experience is typical of another common problem there, as well. He’s filed a complaint with the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, to recover wages that his employer owes him. Just last year, janitors and security officers organizing with SEIU United Service Workers West won their campaign for stronger protections against wage theft in California.
For San Diego officers like Eduardo, the legislation was their first victory as they join together to improve their jobs by forming a union.
This may be Eduardo’s most ambitious project yet—bringing stability to the security industry in San Diego.