Miami Beach Rent-a-Cops March on Lincoln Road Today, Demand a Union

It's not likely to draw quite as many stares as the topless protesters who paraded along Lincoln Road last weekend. But the SoBe security guards planning a march today have a much more compelling reason to demonstrate.

The guards -- those guys you see pedaling past on mountain bikes every time you're pounding beers at Zeke's -- say they've been bullied, harassed, and lied to by their employer, Security Alliance, as they try to form a union.

As we reported last month, Eric Brakken, district director for the SEIU -- the service industry union trying to organize the guards -- has filed federal complaints over mandatory meetings and threatening letters sent to the guards. The only guard who spoke to us on the record for that story, Richard Ruiz, was canned just after the piece was published.

Security Alliance CEO David Ramirez -- who recently won a big county Metrorail contract with the help of some heavy-hitting lobbyists -- says the complaints are bogus and that SEIU is doing the intimidating.

Either way, it looks like the conflict hasn't simmered down yet.

Brakken tells Riptide that a march will wind down Lincoln Road to Miami Beach City Hall starting around 4 p.m. today to protest the company's tactics.

"These guards feel like it's time for Security Alliance to take the steps to treat them fairly and to allow for quality public safety on the beach," Brakken says.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink