Downtown Detroit security guards march
Detroit — A day-long strike for downtown Detroit security guards started early in the work day Thursday with a march, and will culminate with a rally in the noontime hour.
Aundreana Jones-Poole, a spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union, said security workers started demonstrating at 6 a.m. at the First National Building, off Campus Martius Park.
The protest moved from the First National Building to the 1001 Woodward Building, she said. The demonstration lasted about 75 minutes, ending about 7:15 a.m.
The demonstration was loud, audible from areas through downtown more than a block away. At issue in Thursday's action are wages, which the guards feel are too low.
Thursday's action isn't over just yet, as "250 to 300" people, including Detroit City Council members, Wayne County commissioners, local ministers and others are to join the strikers at the Ally Detroit Center, on Woodward at Congress, to rally again for higher wages.
The group is seeking a pay hike to at least $15 an hour. The security guards in question "are making as little as $11 an hour now," Jones-Poole said, and on the high end, about $12.50.
Low wages, she said, has workers relying on buses to get to and from work, and on public assistance to support themselves.
Thursday's actions are designed to "impact some of downtown Detroit's most prominent buildings," according to a statement from the SEIU. Those include the Chase Tower, Chrysler House and the Federal Reserve Building that houses The Detroit News and the Free Press.
In addition, SEIU janitors, in solidarity with the security guards, won't be crossing picket lines Thursday to clean, the union said in a statement.
SecurAmerica, employer of some 340 security guards who work in 100 buildings downtown, said in a statement that the company "prides itself on providing a fair and respectful work environment with a competitive wage and benefit package" and, speaking for its employees, added that "the vast majority of our security officers in downtown Detroit enjoy the direct relationship they have with our management and they have no interest in being represented by any third party.”
Only five of the company's employees downtown didn't show up to work Thursday, a spokesman retained by SecurAmerica told The News.
SecurAmerica's statement adds that the workers in question are not unionized, and not represented by the SEIU, and that the SEIU has no authority to call a strike on their behalf.
As for the wage issue, SecurAmerica said that it has boosted wages "between 13 and 19%" since taking over the security contract for the 100 buildings downtown in July 2018.