Sunday was a big night in Hollywood, and not just for the movie stars attending the Academy Awards ceremony. Outside the event at the Dolby Theatre, 50 security guards and supporters gathered to oppose the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences' use of non-union security guards from a company called Security Industry Specialists (SIS). As Los Angeles Times reports, union activists believe that SIS has mistreated workers across the board. They outlined their grievances in a letter addressed to Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs: "SIS is an irresponsible security firm that falls short of the high standards the Academy has traditionally set for the Oscars," the Service Employees International Union wrote in the letter. According to the letter, SIS has been the subject of numerous lawsuits by current and former officers "who have accused the company of engaging in wage theft, racial and gender discrimination and worker spying and intimidating." Though the academy did not change its security firm for the event, the protesting security guards said they want to draw attention to the issue. Daivon Young, a 28-year-old SIS officer from Seattle, came to L.A. specifically to help protest during the Oscars. “As security guards we just want to be equal, treated fairly just like anybody else,” he said. “Obviously the Oscars are very known—everyone’s TV is on right now. We want to put the attention on us.” The same group of security guards and community members also protested outside of an Oscars luncheon in February, where they attempted to deliver their letter to Isaacs in person. An SEIU spokesperson says that although "[Isaacs] did not physically take [the letter]," the officers "were able to get in front of Cheryl Boone Isaacs at the luncheon and offer her the letter."
Sarah Berlin is an intern at In These Times.