The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Mac security guards opt out of their union's one-day strike

By Amy Lieberman

Hundreds of security guards in the Twin Cities went on strike Monday, creating what Javier Morillo-Alicea, president of the Service Employees International Union’s Local 26 branch, called a “fantastic turnout.” But Macalester’s seven security guards, all employees of American Security, steered clear of picket lines during the one-day strike.

“Oh, is there a strike?” asked security guard Jacque Ralston, who also serves as the Macalester chapter’s union representative. “I saw the e-mails, but I didn’t know if there was or not.”

American Security is one of the three biggest security firms in the Twin Cities, along with Securitas and ADM security. These companies employ all of the guards that picketed on Monday.

Negotiators failed Saturday to agree on the terms of a new contract. Members of Local 26 voted on Feb. 9 to authorize a strike if negotiations failed.

Morillo-Alicea said that the security guards did not picket outside of the American Security building with which the Macalester security guards are affiliated.

“We struck three companies along point buildings,” he said. “In St. Paul there was a total of 60 officers in downtown and in Minneapolis it was much bigger. By the afternoon there were a few hundred people marching through the downtown.”

The contract between American Security and the union that represents the Macalester security guards expired on Dec. 31. Morillo-Alicea said that an increase in hourly wage and health care benefits are goals for the new contract, which has yet to be renewed.

“We definitely have a bargaining date scheduled next week,” he said, “but I am hopeful we might get something before.”

The strike was seen by some as an effort to gain publicity before the March 6 negotiations.

“We wanted to do a quick, dramatic hit, to show we are serious and we need to get the jobs done,” Morillo-Alicea said.

Though Ralston is a member of Local 26 and pays its annual fees, he said that he and the other Macalester security officers remain largely out of the loop.

“I should follow it more, but I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I’m just doing my own thing.”

Ralston said that he didn’t find the union to have a “big network” and that he does not associate with different security officers unionized under Local 26. He also said that the union’s activities are not a topic of conversation Macalester guards often discuss.

According to “Finance and Commerce,” a business daily in the Twin Cities, if the March 6 negotiations fall through, another longer strike might ensue. The publication cited signs at Monday’s demonstrations that read: “If it needs to get bigger, it will get bigger.”

Robbie Seals, an American Security account manager who supervises the Macalester guards, said that he “doesn’t know a whole lot about” the strike or the negotiations. But he said that if the Macalester guards decide to strike in March, American Security “has a right to hire [other employees] because they have an obligation to the client to provide security.”

“The company has a policy,” he said. “They have a right to strike and they have a right to work.

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    Amelia KnoxSep 6, 2019 at 8:33 am

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