SEIU: We'll organize Phila college guards

SEIU Local 32BJ, the Northeast janitors' union that claims 120,000 members, says it plans to organize private security officers at Philadelphia-area colleges, corporate headquarters and other institutions.

"Non-union officers in Philadelphia earn as little as $9 an hour without benefits, in contrast to their union counterparts in Washington, DC who receive a minimum salary of $13.45 an hour with employer-paid healthcare, and New York city officers who earn a minimum of $14.35 an hour" with healthcare, retirement and "paid leave," said union vice president Valarie Long in a statement timed to appear on Martin Luther King Day. She cited support for the effort from US Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., among others.

Guards at Temple and Penn last year approached the independent Philadelphia Security Officers' Union, which represents workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, for help starting union campaigns. Long's union says there are an estimated 18,000 private security officers in the Philadelphia area, and the business is growing as cities like Camden and Philadelphia try to trim public police spending.