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Miami Security Officers Defend City's Living Wage Ordinance, Strike Against Kent Security
Ashley Wood

August 19, 2011
View the Original Article

Security officers in Miami say they've been underpaid for two years by Kent Security, and they've had enough. On Wednesday, dozens of officers who protect public sites at the City of Miami and the Miami Parking Authority went on strike to protest what they believe is Kent Security's violation of the Miami Living Wage Ordinance.

The Kent Security officers say their employer has unlawfully withheld as much as $100,000 from their low-wage paychecks by paying them under the city's minimum wage for two years. Miami officials say they are investigating the company's payroll after officers filed a living wage complaint with the city in April.

Miami's Living Wage Ordinance was put in place to provide good paying jobs to city residents and ensure tax dollars are used to hire responsible contractors only. Instead, officers say Kent Security has been pocketing the extra taxpayer money and has yet to address the wage problem with its employees. The officers felt they had no other choice but to go on strike and make their voices heard publicly.

"There is a living wage in this city and we are here to ask Kent to do the right thing and follow the law," said Herbert Renard, who works as a security officer for Kent Security.

MiamiKentStrike1_08172011.jpgSecurity officers at the Miami Parking Authority also say they are not receiving necessary benefits, training and essential radio equipment needed in emergency situations. They say they were interrogated by the company about their plans to strike.

Like many cities struggling with the current economy, Miami community members are growing tired of companies that don't pay their fair share. Even as Kent's Chief Executive Officer, Gil Neuman, refuses to rectify the violations and pay the wages officers believe are mandated by the Living Wage Ordinance, he serves as principal of 3 Indian Creek LLC, a development company that owns a $60 million property on an exclusive private island.

"It's time that Kent's CEO give as much attention to paying Kent Security's workers their paid legally mandated wages as he does to meeting the needs of Indian Creek property owners," said Eric Brakken, Florida State Director of SEIU 32BJ, a local union that represents many other security officers.