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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  • yes, its all true, Im shock at how this company keep abusing their employees. I have to track my hours because sometimes my check is short.
    Total lack of respect from supervisors, every single thing that u can think needs improvement.
    The only good thing is that I have a job in this bad economy but sometimes I wont mind getting laid off.
    Cant wait to find another job.

    Posted by garda new employee, 10/12/2012 12:48am (3 years ago)

  • On September 10, 2012 the International Union, Security, Police and Fire Professionals of America (SPFPA) the largest, oldest and fastest growing 9(b)3 Security Union in the world today has announced a National campaign to organize the 7,500 Garda security drivers, messengers and ATM Technicians working at 165 Garda Cash Logistics locations throughout North America.

    Our mission is to bring awareness to the public the problems Garda Cash Logistics drivers, messengers and ATM Technicians face each day. This includes unsafe armored vehicles, smoke insulation and no ventilation, leaking fluids and bad breaks, safer equipment including broken heating and cooling systems, overworked Garda security drivers, messengers and ATM Technicians, unsafe routes, realistic route standards, lack of continuous training just to name a few.

    Some of the problems at Garda we have heard about 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.

    Other complaints Garda security drivers, messengers and ATM Technicians complain about is the fact that sometimes they are punished for speaking up about the problems they face on the job. Others are written up, suspended or even fired without just cause. Under the law Garda Cash Logistics can do whatever they want to theses Garda employees since many of these Garda drivers, messengers and ATM Technicians are without a union or a written union contract protecting their rights. So without union representation morale is low and turnover is high.

    What SPFPA is Fighting For

    RESPECT for All Garda Cash Logistics Drivers, Messengers and ATM Technicians
    Affordable Health Care Benefits For Garda Employees and Their Families
    Higher Wages, & Better Benefits
    Overtime After 40 Hours - The Motor Carrier Exemption Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
    401k Retirement Benefits
    Better Job Security and Job Protections
    Better Working Conditions
    Safer Equipment and Trucks
    Better Training Standards
    Safer and Shorter Routes
    A Voice on the Job with One National Contract Covering All Garda Employees

    Posted by RESPECT for GARDA Security , 09/13/2012 4:38pm (3 years ago)

  • Its true. Its the same in san antonio. Broken trucks, bad tires, bad steering wheels, no ac, mirrors no good, management always messing up on ur hours and constantly forgetting, equipment like scanners and printers never charged, got to stay and close if ur the last route in so u constantly are working a15 hour day, so called vault managers think they know it all and write you up behind ur back, half the people here are worried on a consistent basis whether they will be fired from day to day. We call anything that goes wrong here "gardatastic". So like a tire falling off ur truck, or hours messed up, those are examples of gardatastic.

    Posted by Garda sux balls, 06/05/2012 12:27pm (3 years ago)

  • It true about the trucks I have been in a truck where the tire fell off mid route and the supposed to be new trucks are covered in rust and leaking transmission fluid how safe is that but Garda just keeps pushing out crap they put every thing on this scanner system that tracks you stops but don't charge the printers that get turned in after route so when we have to drive this death trap back to the office to get a new battery the system counts that time as missed stops per hour it getting to be a huge problem we never had this with the old at systems Garda needs to realize we put our life on the line everyday we don't need the stress of stops per hour and trucks that are nowhere near safe to drive to add to this mix all power to this branch and hopefully they can change Gardas view on how they do things before one of these rusty leaky trucks kills someone

    Posted by what the garda , 06/05/2012 1:01am (3 years ago)

  • Same in CT!!! How this company can still be in business is a wonder!

    The trucks are all dangerous, doors don't stay closed, most latches don't even lock, brakes don't work, vents - what vents, side mirrors duck taped on, tires fall off on the highway WHILE driving, on and on.

    The don't care anything about their employees! Paychecks are always screwed up - New HR person once a month. Oh and the best thing is don't EVER think you will get paid workers comp, vacation time, bonus, training time they promise or holidays - ITS NEVER going to happen!!!

    Posted by GardaSucks!, 05/17/2012 5:38pm (3 years ago)

  • All the allegations in this article are completely true. anyone siding with the company is usually upper managment. unless ur an actual worker on the trucks and deal with the un educated management on a daily basis then dont say anything is "exaggerated".

    Posted by garda slave , 04/19/2012 2:57am (3 years ago)

  • most of the claims in this story are grossly exaggerated, underpaid? yes. mistreated? absolutely not, those who are "punished" at this branch are deserving of being placed on standby. these individuals milk their routes by staying out all day and taking their time. these individuals are lucky to be working right now, there are plenty of more qualified people who are unemployed who would love to work this job. fact is it is an unskilled job so how can you expect $70000 a year. btw the interim president was dismissed from Garda because of driving violations

    Posted by luckytohaveajob, 01/04/2012 8:08pm (4 years ago)

  • Same story here in Dallas and Fort Worth

    Posted by Mistreated, 11/02/2011 4:18pm (4 years ago)

  • This is the same situation in Canada.

    Posted by United, 10/19/2011 1:31pm (4 years ago)

  • This is probably the worst place to work in illinois. The employees are mistreated in every possible way. Pay checks are shortened purposely and management knows this. Underpaid and overworked sums it all up. Management lie and cheat their employees on a daily basis. Only God can save us.

    Posted by Untitled, 10/18/2011 7:42pm (4 years ago)

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