Armored vehicle operators form union, demand respect

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BROADVIEW, Ill. - "We're tired of being crapped on for years," said a worker at the Garda World Security Company branch here last week. He and his coworkers voted for a new union, the Chicago-based United Armored Transporters of America Oct. 12th with 65 percent of the vote.

The union is the largest organization in the world representing workers at armored vehicle companies.

"I need my job and we depend on the minimal benefits, but I'm not going to crawl around on my belly," said an 11-year veteran worker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The union's slogan is "United we bargain, divided we beg."

UATA's 300 members, including crew leaders and drivers entrusted with millions of dollars, operate two-ton armored vehicles between locations throughout the Midwest. They operate along an average of 150 routes a day.

The Broadview branch is the largest in the country.

"There are trucks that should not be on the streets," said the worker. "Some are leaking fluids and have bad breaks." He said at one point he was making up to $70,000 and now he's only making $38,000. "We understand the economy is tight right now, but our families depend on the income," he said.

The Montreal-based company is ranked among the top security operations internationally and is respected as the leader in armored-vehicle services throughout the Chicago-land area.

Workers say the company and its supervisors have taken aggressive steps to thwart their efforts with union busting tactics including the recent firing of two leaders of the organizing drive.

They say they want to be respected on the job and that they need better job security and protections. Better working conditions, safer equipment and trucks, realistic route standards, more training, higher wages and better benefits are some of their demands.

Drivers are expected to operate heavy, tank-like vehicles through rough areas, maintain and carry deadly weapons and remain sequestered in their vehicles for extended periods. Workers say the vehicles and garages are under-maintained.

The trucks are large metal boxes with no open windows or ventilation. Cab temperatures reach 115 degrees in the summer, and can fall below zero during the winter, due to broken heating and cooling systems. The Garda garage suffers from inadequate ventilation from the outside and blue plumes of diesel-truck exhaust can be seen wafting from the doorways.

Another problem is how the company uses a computer timing system and cameras to continually compress the allotted time to complete daily routes. Taking less time causes a shorter schedule to set the system as the standard. Taking longer than that estimated standard time gives supervisors reason to question the workers and write them up.

Some workers are punished for speaking up and are deliberately placed on "standby" for up to three weeks. Others are made to do in-house jobs while on standby like cleaning the walls or taking out the trash, which the workers say are duties not in their job description and just punishment.

Arthur Mangialardi, the new union's interim president said he worked at the Broadview plant for three and a half years before being fired due to his organizing efforts.

"Our prospects are great moving forward with the union's resounding victory," he said. "We have to really do our homework and the hard part starts now going into negotiations but we're building a team and consulting with our lawyer and allies."

He added, "Our biggest and first concern is improving the working conditions."

A team is putting together several potential dates on which it hopes the company will come to the table and talk.

"We fully expect they will try and use delay tactics," he said, adding the company has seven days from the union election to try and overturn the vote. "There may be a dirty trick or two left in the bag that they're going to try and pull," said Mangialardi.

"We are prepared to file a charge with the NLRB right away," said Mangialardi.

Filing of a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board is the recourse workers have, under U.S. labor law, when there is a refusal by a unionized company to bargain in good faith.

The workers note unarmed mall security guards in Chicago enjoy starting salaries at $15.50 per hour, yet Garda employees start at $12.85 and work under conditions that organizers say are far below industry standards.

The armored vehicle operators make stops to banks, ATM's, retail and commercial outlets, federal and county buildings, schools and hospitals, delivering sums of cash and valuables.

In 2011, Garda enjoyed second-quarter growth of 9.9 percent, with increased revenues to $296 million from the previous year, though net profits have been slipping in recent years. Stephan Cretier, Garda's founder and president, earned $849,231 in salary and benefits in 2010.

In a statement Garda said the company "has an excellent record of labor relations with its unions and is happy to sit down and negotiate with the union in compliance with the National Labor Relations Act. We believe the allegations cited are without merit and will not lend credence to them with public discussion. It is important to note that a significant number of our employees did not side with the union at our Broadview location. Garda is always prepared to listen and discuss the concerns of our employees."

Photo: Workers with the newly formed Chicago-based United Armored Transporters of America union hold signs in front of the Garda World Security Company, where they work, in Broadview, Illinois Oct. 13. Pepe Lozano/PW

 

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  • along with Garda i have faced dangers in my work place as well.. check out ny story at gene.scott.56@facebook.com

    Posted by gene scott, 10/19/2013 3:03pm (11 months ago)

  • Gene Scott
    10-17-2013
    I am an Armored Driver that was creatively fired for bringing safety concerns to my employer.My story is all over my page and my friends page Wanda Brown..We are still pursuing this.I brought forth my complaints to the Department of Osha in Denver,Co,my complaint was later denied by letter in 2012..I was told of your site through a friend,they suggested i contact you..I am presently an Armored Driver for another Company.. The problems in my line of work that i was bringing
    forward were:
    We drive Intrastate Commerce as a contractor through the Us Treasury Department,we are given a copy of the Congress enacted
    Riciprocity act for Armored cars to show to Law Enforcement if ever we are stopped along with are Merchant Guard License through the License and Excise dept of Denver,Co...
    The problem is most cases when we are pulled over the officer whether it be Department Of Transportation,Local or State Law Enforcement,no one expects an Armed Driver in Uniform to step out of an Eighteen wheeler,I've had officers put their hands on their weapons getting ready to draw down..In other cases i have been threatened to be taken to jail,other drivers have been taken to jail,and they're weapons have been seized simply for doing their jobs.
    I also brought up to my employer the fact that we don't have bullet proof vests,or lock boxes on our trucks because Weapons have been stolen on these Trucks and fall into the Criminals hands..
    We as Armored Drivers are given Confidentiality Contracts to sign that says we are not permitted to talk about the very nature of product we have on board on our Trailers,it is a Security risk for everyone involved if this information gets into the wrong hands they're can be devastating consequences,Loose Lips sink ships,people are put in harms way,injured or Ultimately Killed.
    In 2008 when i started bringing these things forward,the owner had given a News statement to the Media(THIS CAN BE CONFIRMED BY A SEARCH QUERY ON GOOGLE TITLED "V GAINES SECRET MISSION)
    Describing in nature what we haul in our Trailers,I was involved in a Federal Reserve move in the state of Washington at the time when this News Media statement came out exposing every Armored Eighteen Wheeler Company on the road that does this line of work,along with the Secret Service,Law Enforcement,Etc are at risk now that this information is on the Internet for any wacko with hostile intentions to do harm and possibly hijack our loads and be Killed in the process..Not only have we been put at risk,this is a matter of National Security,Homeland Security,Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms,as well as Secret Service,and Local Law Enforcement..
    If we as Armored Drivers are to be held accountable for breaching the very Confidentiality clause Contract that we sign and are suppose to abide by,why isn't the Very Employer and its Corporate Officers not held to the the same standards of the Contract they create and have they're Drivers sign to uphold?
    We desperately need your help are very lives depend on it,are civil rights are being violated,they expect us to do are jobs and bring them they're profits ,all under the Umbrella and Endorsement of the Us Treasury,Bureau Of Engraving and Printing,The Federal Reserve and so on,they are making their profits on the backs of the Armored Drivers without us having proper training,equipment,radio communications,or Law Enforcement across the Board recognizing that we have the Authority supposedly to do our jobs safely by way of Intrastate Commerce under the Riciprocity Act of Congress that gives us that initial right to do so.. my email is ginoscott483@yahoo.com
    Sincerely Looking Forward To your Help.

    Posted by gene scott, 10/19/2013 2:56pm (11 months ago)

  • I been working for Garda/ united armored transport since 2007 though 2013 I have Detacated we the people have detacated are self by working under extremely weather conditions with these trucks. No air conditioning when its hot and no heat when its cold and these customers we have to deal every day for very little money also we have to worry about management are biggest threat. We come to work wondering who are partner's and wondering if we will have are jobs I we feel that shouldn't be that way. I would say more I have to much to say but I think I cover and e everyone that posting covers most of it if not all




    Posted by edward mendia, 09/29/2013 1:14pm (12 months ago)

  • I totally agree with one of the commenters who said that it is better to keep your existing staff than to have a high turnover rate and keep having new staff every now and then. New hirers require more money as the market rates change every now and then too. They also require training which is time consuming and waste effort. The main factor that influences the turnover rate is definitely the working environment. A conducive work environment will increase the chances of staff staying for a longer period and hence reducing the turnover rate.

    Posted by Peter Mould, 07/10/2013 4:06am (1 year ago)

  • Similar problems here on the West coast. Trucks take forever to get repaired, and administration is unorganized and irrational with expectations.

    As far as employees go, starting wages and raises are far too low for CA (not to mention the overtime after 50 hours issue) with all that you are expected to learn regarding routes. By the time any newer employees start to get the hang of things, they find a better job and they're gone. Constantly training new hires gets frustrating.

    The company would benefit much better if they invested in their employees so they would stick around. It would surely make things run a lot better as they would want.

    Posted by 7 year GARDA/ATS Crew Leader, 01/18/2013 1:27am (2 years ago)

  • It is hard to believe the working conditions these vehicle operators are in. Thank goodness the union is stepping in. I think the most important issue here is to improve the worker’s working environment. Most importantly, the working area should be safe and that the workers do not have to worry about their health at work. All the vehicles should be checked for safety and have the faulty auto parts replaced. A safe environment will definitely improve the worker’s state of mind which will in turn improve their productivity. This will eventually be beneficial to the company.

    Posted by Thomas, 12/21/2012 3:02am (2 years ago)

  • Would like to see this happen at Dunbar..

    Posted by Dunbar Guy, 11/13/2012 6:40pm (2 years ago)

  • I am shocked to hear about the working condition in the company. I can empathize with the workers having to work in the armored vehicles with almost no ventilation. I hope the union will be able to do something about the working conditions. We all understand the economy is bad, but basic respect should still be given to the workers. I have personally seen armored vehicles moving towards vehicles barrier in crash tests. These vehicles require strong skill to operate and they tend to overturn easily. I think another concern of the union should be to ensure the safety of the workers.

    Posted by Fred Rodriguez, 11/12/2012 4:48am (2 years ago)

  • What's the next step on the union ? My guys don't know much about it

    Posted by Garda truck leader, 10/17/2012 11:13pm (2 years ago)

  • I agree with all these comments. I can't believe it's the same thing going on at ever shop. We are for the union but we haven't been contacted.whats the next step? We Just got the letter from Garda saying we don't need outsiders (union ). We definitely need help.

    Posted by Garda truck leader, 10/17/2012 11:10pm (2 years ago)

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