The vigil, held Monday, coincided with negotiations between Service Employees International Union Local 26 and Twin Cities security firms.
"As we celebrate Dr. King today," said Harrison Bullard, a security officer and member of Local 26, "I am reminded of his warning that 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' Hannon's actions threaten the racial and economic justice we all stand for today."
Hannon has repeatedly refused to join other security firms in the Twin Cities in improving industry standards. Security officers at Hannon are without access to affordable health insurance and minority employees report racial discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotion practices.
"We are here today because the struggle for economic security, health care, and racial justice is our struggle," said the Rev. Nancy Anderson, founder of the Worker Interfaith Network and pastor of Community United Church of Christ is St. Paul Park. "We are here today to say that we face the same challenges security officers in our community face, and so we join in the struggle to make our community better—together."
Security officers and supporters held a vigil for a fair contract.
Photo by Rafael Morataya
The vigil was followed by a procession at Normandale Lake Office Park, where Hannon has a security contract. Over 100 security officers, faith leaders and community allies passed silently through the office park's buildings wearing sashes reading, "Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Stand Against Racial Discrimination."
Security officers and community allies have expressed serious concerns over allegations of racial discrimination at Hannon Security Services, which is currently under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
At public hearing held in December, Congressman Keith Ellison, D-5th District, and local faith leaders denounced the security firm's practices as out of touch with Minnesota's values. Grace-Trinity Community Church announced the termination of its contract with Hannon, while faith leaders and community allies signed a public pledge to support security officers and terminate their contracts with Hannon.
Monday's action followed on the heels of an announcement from Los Angeles security officers that they have reached a tentative agreement with security contractors in that city. If ratified, the contract will be the best-ever of its kind in the country, raising total compensation -- wages and healthcare -- by nearly 40 percent.
SEIU's national "Stand for Security" campaign is the largest organizing effort of mostly African-American workers in history, with the potential to impact the lives of up to at least 200,000 security workers and their families nationwide. That's hundreds of thousands more than the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters organized in the 1920s and 1930s, a watershed moment that helped form the black middle class.
Nearly 1,000 security officers and window cleaners who provide services for the majority of Twin Cities commercial office space are currently in contract talks with their employers for higher wages, improved access to health care, and more work hours. The workers' contract expired Dec. 31.