- The Washington Times - Monday, May 8, 2006

Maryland U.S. Senate candidate Kweisi Mfume yesterday led a protest against a Bethesda security company that is in the middle of a labor dispute with employees.

Mr. Mfume, the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and a former congressman, led about 20 people into the offices of Admiral Security at 4401 East West Highway.

They were asked to leave by an Admiral Security manager.

“Let me just ask that you consider the opportunity to have a discussion before this escalates and becomes the sort of thing that neither side wants,” Mr. Mfume said.

“I’m sure that many of your clients would be concerned if they knew that these concerns of the workers here were as magnified as they are,” he told Blaine Wilson, human resources manager at Admiral Security.

Mr. Mfume said the wages paid to Admiral’s 2,000 security officers are as low as $9 an hour, that many officers are not able to afford their health care, and that little training is given to them.

Todd Carroll, Admiral’s executive vice president, said that over half of the company’s full-time employees receive free health care and dental insurance from Blue Cross/Blue Shield in an HMO plan.

Since September 2004, when Mr. Carroll said he joined the company, he has negotiated the free health care and dental insurance on all new contracts, he said.

He said he also has retroactively negotiated free health care for some existing contracts and is working on others.

Mr. Carroll also said that since September 2004, all new employees have been paid a minimum of $9.75 an hour, with a raise after six months, and that they are given one week of vacation after one year of full-time employment.

All employees also receive at least $15,000 in life insurance, Mr. Carroll said.

“The philosophy of the company is to take care of our employees. That’s what we have been doing,” Mr. Carroll said.

The central disagreement appeared to be whether Admiral’s employees will be allowed to unionize.

A letter from Mr. Mfume to Admiral’s CEO, William F. Peel III, said that Admiral has “not only refused to engage in a dialogue but has also allegedly interrogated employees about their union activities and otherwise interfered with their right to organize a union.”

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