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Francine Beal: "If we all come together, they'll have to listen. And then we can make this profession into a career."

July 30, 2010


"For me, getting a union at work is a question of survival," says Francine. "I get paid just $8 an hour and it's just not enough to live on these days."

Francine Beal has worked in the security industry for 5-1/2 years and has been with her current employer for 2-1/2 years. She started at $10 an hour and went up to $10.25. But because of low funding, the hospital Francine was protecting was about to close.

"I requested a transfer to a new post so I could keep my job," recalls Francine. "They told me my pay would only be $8 an hour. I also lost all seniority and vacation."

On $8 an hour, Francine struggles to pay $485 a month for rent and has to rely on her boyfriend for help paying the bills. "A lot of times I have to choose between weekly groceries and paying the electric bill. I can't afford to buy a car so I have to take the bus and even then I don't always have bus fare," Francine says. "On those days I call a friend for a ride but if my friend can't make it, I miss work."

Francine has tried to get a transfer to a higher-paying post but there is nothing on the bus line. Now she is considering opting out of the high-cost health insurance through her employer. Although it would save her $60 each month, she has high blood pressure and is taking two medications. Francine sometimes relies on a free clinic for her medication, but it isn't always available. "I end up paying out of pocket for the medications anyway because the insurance doesn't cover them," says Francine.

Security officers like Francine need a change. "If one or two people go into the office and try to get something done or ask for answers, they won't listen. But if we all come together in a union, they'll have to listen. And then we can make this profession into a career that we can not only survive on, but we can leave as an option for our children and grandchildren."