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Betty McGuire, Massachusetts Security Officer

May 13, 2010


Betty McGuire works at a high-rise office building in downtown Boston. Like many security officers working in the city, Betty protects a multi-million dollar building and its tenants while earning very little herself. She has been with the security company for 3 years. During that time she has received one raise, bringing her hourly wage to $11.35.

Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the country and it is hard to make a living on $11.35 per hour. (The actual cost of living wage is closer to $24.) Now imagine adding health care costs on top of that. The security company that Betty works for does not offer affordable, quality health insurance so she goes without. It is more important that her husband be covered, as he is under Medicare, because he is being treated for cancer.

Betty works the overnight shift, taking the train from Dorchester to start work at 11pm and return home at 7 in the morning. She works this shift because it is the only way she can be there during the day to take her husband to treatments and care for him at home. She remains awake for much of her day.

Sometimes Betty's husband must stay in the hospital for days at a time being treated for his cancer. During times like these Betty must make a crucial decision - Does she stay by her husband's side and support him like she would like to or does she go to work so that she can receive a full paycheck? She recalls that one time she was only able to stay with her husband for one day because she could not afford to lose the pay that she needs for their household bills. You see, the security company that Betty works for does not offer any paid sick or personal days. A day off is a day without pay and she, like most security officers working in Boston, cannot afford it.

Why is it that a full-time employee of a successful company should have to struggle to attain simple necessities like health insurance and paid time-off? Many officers that work in Boston and Cambridge are asking themselves this very question.

Working with SEIU, 1200 officers are negotiating for a union contract; one they hope will provide them a living wage, affordable health insurance, and decent benefits. If Betty had a contract like this now, she could have stayed by her husband's side in the hospital without worrying about how she would pay her next bill at home. She could have quality health insurance for herself instead of going without. Hundreds of officers face these same obstacles and stresses on a daily basis while building owners and security companies count their profits. It is time to stand for security and show your support for their contract campaign.