Seattle officer speaks up about shorted paychecks, wage theft and rights for security officers in the industry

 

Meadallean is a security officer from South King County in Seattle. It’s where she grew up and where she lives now, raising her 6 year old son.

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Meadallean started working as an officer for a company called Security Industry Specialists (SIS). And they placed her at a site guarding AMAZON–one of the most successful, recognizable and profitable retailers in the world. For the last several years she worked hard to protect people and property there. “It was a great job. I knew a lot of my co-workers from school and the neighborhood and I got to keep everyone safe,” she says.

If you haven’t been to Seattle, it’s a world-class city with a booming business and tourist economy. But many who work to directly support these businesses can’t make ends meet. As a young mom, Meadallean struggled to pay her bills with the wages she was being paid as an officer.

And that wasn’t all. As a security officer she expected to be trained and treated with respect. But many security officers—particularly the African-American and Latino officers–felt disrespected by management. There was favoritism and divisive comments being spoken, and no one was addressing them.

It came to a head when Meadallean noticed she wasn’t being paid for all the hours she worked. “It was so hard for me to lose that pay. And it was harder because I was not getting answers from the company. I have a 6 year old child and losing even a few hours of wages could cost me my housing,” she says.

This was happening to her coworkers as well and trying to correct the situation proved draining. That’s when Meadallean decided she had to do something. And it’s why she recently spoke out at a City Hall meeting.

Meadallean was there to advocate for resources to fund the Office of Labor Standards—which is tasked with regulating business activity including minimum wage law, paid sick and safe time, wage and tip requirements and more.

“At the time, I did not know that Seattle had a Wage Theft Ordinance. Or an Office of Labor Standards that we could go to for help. If I had known these things, I would have known where to turn when my paycheck was short. My co-workers and I could have gotten help with this. We would have been empowered to exercise our rights.”

Other organizations in attendance to support funding included SEIU6, SEIU Local 775, Martin Luther King County Labor Council, Puget Sound Advocate for Retirement Action and Working Washington.

Meadallean hopes these programs get adequately resourced. “That’s why I am calling on you, City Council Members, to do whatever you need to do to make sure that every worker knows their rights and knows how to exercise their rights. Because, after all, why have wage-laws if we cannot enforce them,” she said.

Update:     On November 16th, City Hall has agreed to fund the Office of Labor Standards through the city’s general fund.

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