KONA, Hawaii – About 85 security guards and airport police, fed up with working conditions at the Kona International Airport, voted to join a new local union on Friday.
The guards work for the private company Securitas, which provides security at airports statewide.
“The guards at all the airports lack – or don’t have – any benefits at all,” said Richard Dods, executive director for the newly formed International Union of Security and Protective Officers. “There’s no sick leave. There’s no vacation. There no holidays. And they have a very meager medical plan. But paramount is that these guards don’t have any rights. We have seen firings, suspensions, and the like for really no reason at all.”
This is the second time the Kona security guards have organized. The workers broke off their affiliation with a mainland union last year, shortly after voting to join.
“Shortly after organizing,” Dods said, “we learned, quite surprisingly, that the founder of the union that we were associated with … was convicted for stealing union funds. And we were never told about it. So we just felt that it was improper for us to continue our relationship with them as long as that gentleman was part of their organization.”
Dods added, “what we felt would be the best thing to do for (the local airport workers) was to start a grassroots union with local ties, having a local attorney, and understanding the local ways.”
Now that Kona voted to join the new union, the International Union of Security and Protective Officers has its sights set state-wide.
“We will be at an airport close to you very soon!” Dods smiled.