Grantee Spotlight: Philadelphia Security Officers Union

On April 28, members of the Philadelphia Security Officers Union made history.

After a four-year struggle, union members signed their first collective bargaining agreement with AlliedBarton at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The new contract will raise the wages of 150 security officers from $10.03 to $10.88 per hour, with a 3% raise following in the next two years. This increase in wages will distribute more than $500,000 to low waged workers over the next three years.

Fabricio Rodriguez, organizer at the Philadelphia Security Officers Union, says: “I began organizing with security officers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2007. Over the years, we have had setbacks and at times it was hard. Some of the leaders that began this struggle are no longer with us-some moved on to new jobs, some quit, one was fired. In the dark moments, I really thought that our effort to form a union out of scratch was a fool’s errand. But we never let those dark moments stop us from pushing on.”

Guards who work at the art museum received their first-ever foundation grant from Bread & Roses. The union began as a project of Jobs with Justice and then spun off to become its own organization. The union has also won victories for workers at the Delaware riverfront, who received more than $3,000 in illegally lost wages.

The Philadelphia Security Officers Union also plans to continue to expand its organizing efforts throughout the region. According to Dynnita Bryant, a PSOU member, “This is a huge victory, and it could not have been won without the Bread & Roses Community Fund.” Despite the challenges, the recent contract victory at the art museum is proof that workers still have the power to organize and win concrete changes from their employers. Which means that this victory is due-in no small part-to the support of people like you.

Sulaiman Kamara, treasurer of PSOU, rallies in front of the Art Museum for the rights of security officers across Philadelphia. Photo by: Harvey Finkle