Laurie Mattson-Collier left a meeting with Command Security Corporation managers last month relieved they had reached a compromise to stave off severe pay cuts for her unit of 13 security officers at a postal facility in Eagan.
Less than a week later, Command told Mattson-Collier it was backing out of the verbal agreement, citing opposition from “stakeholders” in the corporation.
“I was just devastated,” Mattson-Collier said. “I started cussing. I really try not to cuss, but I was so upset.”
The workers, members of Local 26 of the Service Employees International Union, held a one-day strike today, protesting what they called an “act of bad faith” by Command.
After taking over the security contract for the U.S. Office of the Inspector General’s facilities in June, Command announced changes to a longstanding practice, upheld by other security contractors, of compensating workers who forego fringe benefits like health insurance.
The change meant a pay cut equivalent to $4.27 per hour for workers like Mattson-Collier and Vicky Berg, who gets her health insurance via Medicare. Some workers have quit, she said, and others have been forced to take second jobs.
“I’ve heard stories about some of my co-workers even having to put insurance premiums on their credit cards,” Berg said. “This is how they treat experienced, dedicated employees who are the first line of security for such a vital building?”
Mattson-Collier, who has worked security at the Eagan facility for 13 years, said she and her husband, who is disabled, had no choice after he paychecks plummeted in value but to move in with their daughter.
“This is a nightmare,” she said. “We do important work, and it is hard to believe that we are being treated this way.”
Command cited payroll taxes as its motive for looking to eliminate the additional compensation. Workers were hopeful the company would agree to continue the practice if they covered the taxes themselves.
The two sides currently have no additional bargaining sessions scheduled. Workers warned that without a deal upholding fair compensation levels, more longstanding officers are likely to find other work, undermining the security of the Office of the Inspector General.
Members of Local 7019 of the American Postal Workers Union, who work inside the Eagan facility, picketed alongside security officers, showing their support for the strike.
“I don’t trust Command any more,” Mattson-Collier said. “For them, I think it’s all about the dollar.”