Transit Security Strike Is Against Heritage Security Systems – Not MTS
By Robert J. Hawkin / SignOnSanDiego / November 9, 2011
SAN DIEGO — San Diego transit security officers have voted to strike Thursday, when many football fans will be taking buses and the trolley to the San Diego Charger-Oakland Raider game at Qualcomm Stadium.
Metropolitan Transit System will “will maintain a full force” regardless how many of the 130 officers walk off the job, said MTS spokesman Rob Schupp
Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America has been attempting to negotiate a first contract for the transit security officers with their employer, Heritage Security Systems of San Diego, according to union spokesman and organizing director Steve Maritas.
Heritage contracts with MTS to provide security for the bus and trolley system.
Maritas said that in the last two weeks talks have broken down.
The union filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in October, claiming that Heritage is not negotiating in good faith.
A second complaint, filed today, alleges that MTS is inserting itself into the negotiating process and retaliating against security officers who participated in a recent informational picket.
As for the strike on Thursday, “we will be walking out some time during the day,” said Maritas, “whether it is in the morning, afternoon or evening we just don’t know yet.”
The game is scheduled to start at 5:20 p.m. but transit officials are urging fans to board the trolley by 2 p.m. and arrive at the stadium by 3 p.m.
Maritas was reached Wednesday in Michigan, en route to the airport for a flight to San Diego.
He said the exact nature and length of the strike will be determined after he arrives in the city to discuss the action with local union reps. “It depends on what the guys want to do,” he said. “They took a strike vote.”
According to Maritas, the strike vote was 84 to 1 to walk off the job.
Calling the strike “Occupy MTS,” Maritas hastened to note that the action is aimed against the employer, Heritage Security, and not against the contractor MTS. He hopes to tie the strike action into the Occupy San Diego movement, as the union did two weeks ago during the informational picket.
Maritas claims that MTS security officers who participated in the informational picket have been subjected to shift changes, change of work assignments, interrogations and surveillance. “MTS is getting involved and they shouldn’t,” he said.
Schupp said MTS would not comment on those claims. But he said Heritage is obligated to staff the trolley and bus system with security officers and he expected the agency to draw in officers from elsewhere to fill in.
According to Maritas, starting pay for security officers ranges from $8.50 to $10.50 an hour with no sick pay or holiday pay. Officers must pay for their own health benefits, he added.
Further, employees must purchase their own uniforms through the company and must pay to replace equipment like guns, ammunition, pepper spray and handcuffs expended in the line of duty, he said.