For the past four years, Edgard Dixon has patrolled Dinner Key, catching bike thieves, protecting Miami City Hall, and even helping to nab a fugitive who was hiding out near the docks. But despite a promotion to captain, the 61-year-old private security guard says his employer, Kent Security, pays him just $11.14 an hour for his work. "That's just not a fair wage," he says.
What's more, it might also break Miami's "living wage" ordinance. That's what Dixon and a dozen other Kent guards allege in a letter sent to city officials.
Gil Neuman, CEO of the North Miami-based firm, says his company hasn't willfully violated the wage law. "If that's the case, we'll certainly correct it," Neuman says. "We're not interested in doing anything wrong."
In all, Kent has about 20 guards who work at city hall, on Dinner Key, and outside some nearby police stations, and another 15 who protect Miami Parking Authority sites.
Miami's living wage ordinance, which was passed in 2006, requires $13.07 per hour for workers without health insurance or an $11.82 hourly rate for insured employees, says Eric Brakken, Florida state director of 32BJ SEIU, a union that represents many security guards.
Like Dixon, many Kent guards with insurance make $11.14 an hour, Brakken says; uninsured guards also make more than 50 cents per hour under the required wages.
"It's in the city's interest to have contractors follow this law," Brakken says. "If contractors respect their employees, then the best officers with the most experience will stay on the job. At the end of the day, that helps keep citizens safe."
That's what Dixon says he wants.
"I'm not the type of person looking to come stand around for eight hours just to get a check," he says. "I'm out there to do a good job, and I want to be paid fairly for it."
Here's the letter sent to the city's procurement office:
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