Workers Fearing for Their Lives and Jobs File for Union Recognition
August 23, 2010, Philadelphia, PA- On Friday, August 20th, security guards at the Norman Blumberg Apartments at 2311 W. Jefferson St. in North Philadelphia filed for a petition for a union election, saying that the attitude of Carl Greene, Director of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, toward security and his impunity toward repeated controversies make them fear for their lives and safety.
“This weekend alone guards had to break up two violent altercations on the site,” claims Charles Mannings, lead organizer and employee for Scotland Yard Security, the security company contracted to protect the site.
“We have dealt with dozens incidents in the last year and many of these involved guns. Most of us don’t even have bullet proof vests because our employer, Garnett Littlepage, owner of Scotland Yard Security, makes us pay for them out of our own pocket,” further states Mannings.
“We pay for our own training and certification,” says David Williams a security guard at the site.
“We do our best to make sure that our residents are safe and try to take care of each other, but when you see a kid who has gotten stabbed in the head, you ask yourself if you can do this for poverty wages and in these bad conditions,” says Williams referring to an incident that happened in the last month.
The highest a guard can make at this site, even with overtime, is $20,000 per year. Most make $14,500.
Recently, two employees were punished after they took a gun shot wound victim to the emergency room. The victim later died.
The guards point to their dedicated restroom as a symbol of how they are treated. As of August 23, the first floor, unisex restroom, which faces the communal courtyard and is managed by PHA, lacks a curtain, toilet seat, sink, soap and paper towels, and is in a filthy and unusable condition. “The male guards have to relieve ourselves behind a dumpster. The female guards have to ask one of the residents to use theirs. That’s how we are treated,” says Mannings.
“This site symbolizes the problems with PHA right now,” says Fabricio Rodriguez, Campaign Director for the Philadelphia Security Officers Union.
“Carl Greene hired Scotland Yard. Scotland Yard is owned Garnett Littlepage. Mr. Littlepage should let these workers have their choice without any illegal firings or intimidation before their election in October,” says Rodriguez. “We will reach out to the PHA Commissioners. We trust that the PHA Commissioners will do the right thing and say ‘no union busting.”