For more than five years, I have protected the greater Harvard University community as an AlliedBarton security officer. The most fulfilling part is the relationship I have with the students and watching them grow into the world’s future leaders.
At first, I felt pride and excitement about working at one of the most prominent and prestigious universities in the world, but now that my family is barely surviving on near-poverty wages, my feelings have changed.
After working 80 hours a week to afford an apartment in Billerica, I made the difficult decision to move my wife and three children to a Cambridge public housing complex. It is hard for me, a proud man, to live in public housing, but at least I have more time to spend with my family because the rent is subsidized.
I am actively involved in the union with my fellow officers at Harvard because I want to have an active voice in creating a better life for my family.
I protect the grounds surrounding the school of law at Harvard University. I take great pride in my work and appreciate my responsibilities, but I am forced to endure undesirable working conditions imposed by AlliedBarton Security Services, my employer.
Because I am forced to provide for my wife and five children on low wages, I must often work 65 or more hours per week and I still get a paycheck of less than $1,800 monthly. I can neither afford a decent apartment for my family, nor can I live in Cambridge public housing because my income is too high. I have to make tough decisions to take care of my family—even if it means jeopardizing my children’s education and future.
Because AlliedBarton and Harvard University are standing in the way of me and my fellow officers’ efforts to improve our jobs with the Service Employees International Union, I am now preparing to tell my eldest daughter that she cannot return to Rutgers University after her freshman year.With so much at stake, I am hopeful AlliedBarton Security Services and Harvard will respect the civil rights of its employees.
As a security officer at Harvard University, I enjoy interacting with students, many of whom have taken an interest in my family life. Our conversations make me feel valued and respected, but my relationship with my employer, AlliedBarton,is very different.
I am frustrated because of poor working conditions which make protecting the campus and supporting my family a challenge. On one occasion, I was reprimanded for stepping too far out of the view of my supervisor, who watches me via closed-circuit television. Since I explained to him that I needed to walk around because of circulation problems, he now allows me to take two steps forward and backward—but no more.There are other instances where I have felt humiliated at work; and I believe it has gotten worse because I am trying to form a union with my fellow officers. I am fearful that without a union, my fellow officers and I will never have a process available to us in case AlliedBarton decides to terminate our employment for any reason—including stepping too far out of the box.
For five years, I have worked as an AlliedBarton security officer at Harvard University. I am deeply fond of the students at the university who make me feel like a member of the community.
Yet, working at Harvard is a struggle for me because of low wages that have taken a challenging toll on my life. Trying to make ends meet contributed to my marriage falling apart, because I often work 30 or more hours of overtime each week and have little time to spend with my family.
Because I can barely afford the bare necessities, I shop at thrift stores or get old clothing from family members, who also provide me with food when I cannot afford to go grocery shopping.
My mother recently underwent surgery for breast cancer and I have been unable to send her money while she is in recovery. Meanwhile, my 3-year-old son’s needs grow more every day.
The best chance my fellow officers and I have at making our jobs better is by joining together to form a union, like other workers at Harvard have in the past. Only then do he I think we will be paid the wages we need to support our families.