The rally took place the same day as the start of negotiations for a new labor contract that covers more than 1,100 security officers in the city. The bargaining includes a fight for improved health benefits and a wage increase to $15 an hour.
Daria Madison, a security officer and single mother, spoke to the crowd about how the cost of living is increasing in Pittsburgh as new apartments are being built. Peduto echoed this sentiment, stating that “it would be immoral to not see everybody benefit from the type of success” that some local businesses and developers are seeing.
Strip District firefighter Darrin Kelly spoke about the importance of the work the security officers do.
“You protect the biggest buildings between New York and Chicago,” Kelly said.
He noted that, as a firefighter, security officers are often the first people he encounters when responding to a building emergency.
Fetterman voiced support for providing better workplace protections and higher wages to the security officers. “Everybody deserves security, especially the people that provide security," he said.
The current contract for SEIU 32BJ was established in 2015 and expires at the end of September. The contract covers 162 buildings and ensures a minimum pay of $11.75 an hour.
Ashley Crisi, a security guard who also spoke at the rally, reiterated the importance of security officers’ jobs. “We deserve some respect," she said. "We put our lives on the line.”