Security guard: Employer makes me insecure

Posted: April 29, 2013

WHEN ERICA CODY'S fiance was killed in December, leaving the 26-year-old woman to raise their 1-year-old son on her own, the last thing on Cody's mind was worrying about drama at work.

But Cody, who works for Delaware Avenue-based McGinn Security as a contracted guard at Philadelphia University in East Falls, said her employer made an already stressful time worse.

"When he gets killed, they give me a hard time for the days I had to take off for the funeral," Cody said in a recent interview.

When she returned to work after the funeral, she said, her supervisors wrote her up one day in January for calling out to care for her son. She said they threatened to withhold her paycheck if she didn't travel from her West Philadelphia home to the security firm's office to sign the write-up in person.

"As the time goes on, it gets worse," Cody said.

Cody isn't the only one with complaints about McGinn's policies. Other guards who work for McGinn at Philadelphia University, represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, in March filed unfair-labor-practices charges with the Department of Labor, according to Julie Blust, a spokeswoman for the union.

McGinn was cited in 2001 and again last year by the Department of Labor for failing to pay all wages owed to its workers.

When asked last week about the Philadelphia University workers' complaints, a woman who answered the phone at the firm's office said, "I'm just supposed to tell you that we have no comment."

Dozens of protesters blocked traffic at Henry Avenue and School House Lane near the University on April 9 in a demonstration of solidarity with the workers. Blust said five were arrested during the protest.

A spokeswoman for Philadelphia University said in a statement that the university "takes safety and security very seriously," and that the union's actions are directed at a "third-party security vendor."

Martinique Doughty, 26, who also works for McGinn at Philadelphia University, said she has had issues similar to Cody's. The women, both young mothers, said they've been struggling since a $3-an-hour pay cut when McGinn took over their positions from AlliedBarton Security Services in August.

"It's very hard for me to maintain my household," said Doughty, who cares for her daughter and three of her sister's children between ages 4 and 11.

"I have trouble with my landlord because I'm not getting paid what I'm supposed to be getting paid at work."

On Twitter: @morganzalot


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