Students rally for security guards better working conditions

DePaul students gathered in the rain early this Tuesday morning in protest to the overnight university front-desk security guards in residence halls, charging poor working conditions and unfair wages.

Security officers are employed by Guardian Security Services, the contractor that is being protested.

Alexandria Boutros poses with members of IMPACT DePaul. (Photo courtesy of Alexandria Boutros)

The strike was organized in part by the Service Employees International Union Local 1. According to an interview with DNAinfo, “the union charged ‘alleged gender and racial discrimination’ in incidents filed with the National Labor Relations Board, calling Guardian Security ‘an irresponsible contractor’ and adding, ‘Many Guardian Security officers live in poverty and struggle to pay for basic needs, like groceries and CTA passes.’”

The rain did not stop DePaul students from showing their support. They turned the weather conditions and the protest into a chant, “We’re here! We’re wet! So give us our respect!”

Senior Alexandria Boutros participated in the strike and chanted along many other DePaul students.

“I wanted to support the security guards because it’s a human right to be paid a living wage,” said Boutros. “It violates these officers’ human rights to not pay them or to pay them so little. It’s disrespectful also because they are a part of our community.”

Weeks before the strike, students walked around with clipboards outside of the Student Center in the Lincoln Park Campus, trying to obtain signatures from other DePaul students for the petition supporting the officers’ protest against Guardian Security Services.

Freshman Lizzie LaChapelle lives on campus in Seton Hall. She is a part of DePaul’s IMPACT group, who helped get more students to attend the strike. IMPACT is a nonpartisan political activism group on campus. It stands for “I Matter Political Activism Can Too.”

“I attended the strike because the guards are underpaid. Many of them make less than 12 dollars an hour and they don’t receive any health care or benefits,” said LaChapelle .

She was also among more than one thousand students who signed the petition.

The petition asks that DePaul hires a responsible, union contractor that respects the officers who keep the students safe.

“DePaul preaches what must be done, we have to make sure to be reaching out to the most vulnerable and then here we are paying for a contract that doesn’t treat people like human beings,” said Boutros.

The university issued a statement in response to the anticipated strike pointing out that “Guardian’s business operations and employment practices are independent from DePaul.”