Amazon has chosen two unionized contractors to handle security at its campuses in Seattle and nationally.
Security Industry Specialists (SIS), the contractor that has provided security at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters since 2012, was the subject of employee complaints and a union organizing campaign. SIS is preparing to lay off 1,066 workers, according to a notice Wednesday morning from the Washington Employment Security Department.
Amazon chose Allied Universal and Securitas after rebidding its security services contract earlier this year.
“All employees of the current security vendor will have the opportunity to apply to the new vendors,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
The SIS layoff appears to include most or all of the company’s staff that serves Amazon, but SIS president Tom Seltz said the company “continues to do business with Amazon, including in the Seattle region, and will continue operating in Seattle even after this transition.”
Organizers at Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 6 lauded Amazon’s move. SEIU recently stepped up a unionization campaign focused on SIS with demonstrations at a May Day rally and last week outside Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting.
“We think it’s a great step in the right direction to finally get this announcement after so many years of organizing and fighting to bring good union jobs to the Amazon campus,” said the union’s director of external organizing, Greg Ramirez.
Amazon said union status is not a factor in its vendor selection criteria. It sought security vendors “that can scale with us,” and bases its vendor decisions on service quality. “Today we contract with multiple security providers that have both union and non-union employees,” the Amazon spokesperson said.
The move back to union security contractors in Seattle comes against a backdrop of increasing focus on Amazon by organized labor nationally and in Europe.
Ramirez said Allied Universal will provide security services for Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, which has grown substantially in the years since SIS won the work. Amazon has more than 45,000 employees in Seattle, spread across dozens of buildings in South Lake Union and the Denny Triangle.
Securitas, meanwhile, will provide services to Amazon in other North American cities, Ramirez said.
Both companies are signatories to the union’s master agreement, he added.
“They are union contractors, responsible contractors,” Ramirez said. “So they are under our collective bargaining agreement that outlines wages, benefits and all of the rights that come under belonging to a union contractor.”
Ramirez said there are many details still to be determined as current SIS employees look to transition to the new employers, which take over on July 27. The union contract, details of which are confidential, includes annual raises, health benefits with an employer contribution to premiums, scheduling protections, bereavement leave, vacation and other paid benefits, he said.
Importantly, Ramirez said, the contract includes a grievance process through which employees can raise issues with management. The lack of such a process was one of the chief issues raised by SIS employees, who had a litany of complaints about worker treatment, staffing levels and efforts to thwart the organizing campaign.
SIS, based in Los Angeles, won a security contract with Amazon seven years ago. At that time, more than 200 security workers were laid off by Andrews International, a union contractor that previously held the contract to patrol Amazon’s densely packed headquarters.
Ramirez said “very few” security officers were rehired by SIS during that transition. “It’s our understanding that’s not happening this time around,” he said, adding, “We’re doing everything we can to ensure that the workforce is retained and there is a smooth transition.”
That said, the total employment number remains uncertain. SIS employed many part-time security officers, which is why the reported layoff affects more than 1,000 workers. Ramirez expects the new contractors to utilize more full-time employees, potentially reducing the total number of jobs.
Seltz, at SIS, said he expects “the vast majority” of employees will be able to find a job with the new contractor.
“It is unlikely that there will be a net loss of jobs in the Seattle region as a result of Amazon’s decision,” Seltz said.
For SEIU, the move means hundreds of new dues-paying members. SEIU Local 6 currently has about 7,500 members, including about 2,000 in its security division.
“It’s going to have a big impact on our overall growth as a union, but specifically our footprint in security in Washington and across the United States,” Ramirez said.