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Minnesota Security Officer Paul Keith: "My Wife Would Be a Great Mom--If We Could Afford It"

February 8, 2013

Security Officer Paul KeithAsk Minnesota security officer Paul Keith what's going on and he'll tell you. "The rich want to take this country back to the days of the robber barons," he says. "For the middle class that means economic collapse, bad schools, broken-down housing, and debt--student debt, medical debt, mortgage debt. The middle class is being systematically destroyed."

For Paul, who works for American Security at the Retek building downtown, the attack on the middle class hits home. To make ends meet, Paul says he and his wife are forced to rely on Wells Fargo payday loans--for which they pay triple-digit interest rates. "My wife and I can't even afford to start a family," he says. "We're just not in a good economic position. It bothers me to see her with kids, knowing we can't have a family. She would make a great mom." Paul is one of 6,000 SEIU Local 26 janitors and security officers currently negotiating with their employers for better jobs. Although the workers provide profits for some of the largest and wealthiest companies in the world, their proposals have been met with employer demands to cut pay and working hours. Now Paul and his co-workers will be voting whether to go on strike. A walkout would come at a time when ordinary Minnesotans are increasingly pushing for change--in the voting booth, in the state capitol, and in the streets. "We're going to join together with other folks and fight for our future," Paul says. "Either we'll be serfs or we're going to be members of a strong and thriving middle class." And some--like Paul's wife--may be moms.