CHAD CIOCCI/STAFF WRITER
Issue date: 2/13/08 Section: Opinions
It is with some surprise that I write this article because I truly thought this issue would have died out last semester. Although wrong on the issue, certain students are to be commended for fighting for what they believe in: higher pay for our security guard workers, a new union for them as well as the replacement of Summit Security.
Unfortunately, these students who should be commended are also completely wrong on this issue. Their actions would cause thousands of other workers in New York City to lose union representation, cause at least 50 percent of current Fordham security guards to lose their jobs and cause our tuitions to increase. For some reason, though, they fail to understand or at least believe the consequences and ramifications of their actions.
SEIU 32bj is the union that seeks to replace Allied International - the union that Fordham's security guards elected and are currently represented by. They began distributing pamphlets about Allied International months ago and quickly attracted the premier liberal student group to their side. They have since used this club as a pawn to achieve their goal: discrediting Allied International and trying to replace them on this campus.
Unfortunately for thousands of non-security guard workers in New York City, SEIU is not a union for security guards. By state and federal law, a security guard union may only represent security guards. In order for SEIU to become a security guard union, it must undergo a lengthy deregulation process with the National Labor Relations Board. In addition, it must drop those members who are not security guards. This means that if SEIU is successful and replaces Allied International at Fordham, it will be forced to drop thousands of other non-security guard workers who it represents throughout the city. Essentially, thousands of workers will be left without union representation, all in the name of workers' rights.
SEIU claims that it wishes to raise the standards of the security guard industry. Perhaps this is an honorable goal, but few mention that there are over 50,000 security guard workers in New York City who are without union representation. If SEIU truly wishes to raise the standards of the industry, wouldn't it be more productive to go after these 50,000 rather than the 50 or so at Fordham?
Perhaps equally remarkable and reason alone to oppose PSJ's push is that if Summit Security (the company that employs our security guards and is responsible for protecting this campus) is replaced by another company, the new company will only be allowed to hire up to 50 percent of Summit's current employees. In fact, it is possible that 100 percent of the security guards who protect us could be fired and replaced. Is this really what we are after? If students want our security guards to be paid more and to be respected more, how does firing at least 50 percent of them and possibly all of them achieve this goal? In addition, why would we want to get rid of a company that has successfully protected the students of this campus for over a decade?
Individuals have claimed that workers are owed a living wage - that is, a wage that could support a worker living in the city in which he or she works without overtime. This idea might sound good at first, but is completely ridiculous once we examine it further. First of all, it assumes that Fordham security guards live in New York City, where the living wage is incredibly high. This is a terrible assumption since it ignores the fact that it is more realistic that workers commute here from Westchester and other areas. In addition, it functions under the premise that workers should never have to work overtime. This is a bankrupt premise since there is no shame to be found in work or extra work. In fact, hard work should be held as a virtue, not a vice.
It is with a great deal of consternation, then, that I list such serious consequences and do not see my fellow students understanding them. They fail to recognize the ramifications of their actions; in doing so, they pursue policy changes that could negatively affect our campus and those who protect us, despite the fact that they mean otherwise. Make no mistake: Good intentions are no excuse for bad policy. If PSJ and like-minded individuals succeed and the consequences listed above come to pass, they will have done the security guard workers, Summit Security, Allied International and the student body a great disservice.
Direct Link to Story on the Fordham Website »»