GM Guards Target Spinoff to Pinkerton Prompts Union Drive
CHARLES T. JONES
The United Plant Guard Workers of America labor union has begun an organizing blitz, targeting every General Motors Corp. plant in America with nonunion uniformed security personnel.
Negotiations began last week between the labor union and Pinkerton Security & Investigation Services of Van Nuys, Calif., which last July bought GM’s internal uniformed security operations – men, women and hardware.
The struggling automaker sold off those assets, stressing its intent to focus on its “core businesses. ” The deal carries with it a service agreement whereby Pinkerton will, for six years, provide security to the approximately 150 GM unit locations around the country, including its Oklahoma City assembly plant.
The service agreement affects about 2,000 salaried GM security personnel – just over half of whom are members of the United Plant Guard Workers union, a GM spokesman said.
The transfer by GM from in-house to purchased uniformed security services was described by Pinkerton officials as the largest of its kind in history.
The arrangement is projected to net Pinkerton some $70 million in the first year.
GM’s security officers were, overnight, transformed from being salaried GM employees, to being contract hired help.
“They were part of that, quote-unquote, happy GM family. They are no longer part of that family,” said David L. Hickey, whose union represents guards at 60 GM plants.
“The majority of our GM employees are still in a state of disbelief about what’s happened,” said Hickey, the union’s director of organizing.
In preparation for the Pinkerton purchase, the United Plant Guard Workers of America worked out an agreement with GM in which incumbent security officers would continue to receive their hourly pay of about $15.60, plus 80 percent of their benefits for five years.
No matter what Pinkerton decided to pay the guards, GM would make up the difference, Hickey said.
“But that $15.60 doesn’t mean much if you don’t know you’re going to have a job tomorrow.
“There are a lot of security officers that are becoming Pinkerton that know they don’t have any job security,” the union official charged.
“We are looking to organize every unorganized General Motors facility in the country. That’s our ultimate goal,” Hickey said last week.
He said he hasn’t had to wear out much shoe leather in the effort.
“As organizing director, my experience tells me that I’m not going to have to go too hard; they’re going to come to me,” Hickey said.
Authorization cards calling for union representation elections have been arriving unsolicited by the dozens at the international union’s Roseville, Mich., headquarters, Hickey said.
By midweek, the labor union had filed petitions with the National Labor Relations Board for union-representation elections at 10 GM facilities, including the assembly plant in Oklahoma City.
Hickey said his union has filed petitions for elections in Oklahoma City, Chicago, Ohio, the Detroit area, and others.
Authorization cards are “coming in the mail daily,” he said.
“The history of contract (security) agencies is high-turnover, low wages … You see very few contract security agency employees that have been around 20 years. You see no contract agency retirement plans,” Hickey said.
“The only exception to that is nuclear facilities, where the government pays the contract agency bonuses for keeping a low turnover, because they want good, trained, experienced people to be there a long time,” he said.
Last week, Hickey and his union colleagues were negotiating with Pinkerton Senior Vice President Maurice Dispennett and a couple of Pinkerton lawyers for a “fair and equitable contract for both of us.
“We’re not looking to put Pinkerton out of business, and they shouldn’t be looking to put us out of business, because it’s not going to happen,” Hickey said.
Pinkerton to buy GM’s internal security operations
Pinkerton Security & Investigation Services said Friday it has agreed to buy the General Motors Corp.’s internal uniformed security business for an undisclosed price. As part of the deal, Pinkerton will provide security to GM locations around the United States for a six-year period starting July 26.
Wall Street reacted somewhat negatively to the deal as Pinkerton stock declined to $1.25 to $19.75 a share in mid-session over-the- counter trading.
Los Angeles-based Pinkerton had previously acquired responsibilities at Hughes Aircraft Co., a subsidiary of GM Hughes Electronics, and the GM plant in Monterrey, Mexico.
Pinkerton said it will offer jobs to GM’s 2,000 security personnel in the United States.
Pinkerton, which has been active in acquiring smaller security companies, said the proposed transfer from a company-owned security operation to an outside security service is believed to be the largest in history.
Pinkerton estimated that revenues under the agreement with GM will be $70 million in the first year of operation.
‘We are enormously proud of this acquisition and the establishment of this precedent-setting security services relationship with this prestigious company’ said Thomas W. Wathen, Pinkerton chairman and chief executive officer.
GM said the deal is part of its previously announced corporate strategy to concentrate its resources on its automaking business.
‘While selling our security operations was a difficult decision to make, it was consistent with GM’s stated objective to focus on core businesses and we are confident that Pinkerton will maintain the quality of GM security for our employees and our operations,’ said Richard F. O’Brien, GM vice president of corporate personnel.
Pinkerton, which has more than 200 offices and employs more than 45, 000 field personnel, earned $1.2 million on revenues of $164.3 million in the first quarter.