SEIU Local 49 Statement on City Council Award of G4S Contract

May 23, 2019

PORTLAND, OR | The front-line security officers who work hard every day to keep the City of Portland offices and properties safe and secure count on our elected leaders to stand firm in their commitment to keeping good jobs in our city. Union jobs offer workers a path to stability with fair wages, access to affordable healthcare, and stronger job protections.

Our Portland government buildings, including City Hall, can be tough and nuanced places to secure. Our local G4S officers have upheld their commitment to keeping people safe in City buildings, including during moments of intense conflict, and they have done so while building and maintaining community relationships.

The Portland City Commissioners’ decision to award the City’s security contract to G4S, a union contractor, reflects its commitment and responsibility to investing in jobs that will help ensure our city’s workers can support themselves and their families. It was only a few years ago, before winning their union, that many Portland security officers were paid close to minimum wage with few benefits and no protections against unfair treatment on the job.

Now, the 45 security officers who work for G4S are able to take pride in their work with wages and benefits that have helped lift them out of poverty. Had City Commissioners awarded the security contract to a non-union contractor, it would have destabilized the lives of the 45 security officers employed by G4S, and rolled back standards for City workers that our security officers worked so hard to raise.

Our union understands the concerns raised by community members about G4S’ operations elsewhere in the world, and we support the concept of developing human rights standards as one tool for evaluating future proposals for service contracts. However, we strongly believe our Portland City Commissioners did the right thing by Portland workers by awarding the City’s security contract to G4S rather than a non-union contractor that would lower standards for front-line employees.

We thank our elected leaders for making this decision to keep good jobs in our city, and we look forward to working with our City in the future on creating standards that ensure vendors in multiple industries are creating good jobs for Portlanders that are in line with Portland values of equity and economic sustainability.

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SEIU Local 49 represents 15,000 property service and healthcare workers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Property service workers of SEIU Local 49, including janitors and security guards, work throughout downtown Portland providing critical maintenance and security services for some or our City’s highest profile buildings.

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