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Oscar 2014: Security guards protest academy's use of non-union firm

As actors and industry members flocked to the Dolby Theatre for the 86th Academy Awards on Sunday, a group of about 50 security guards and community supporters took to Hollywood Boulevard to protest.

In an effort to sway the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to stop using non-union Security Industry Specialists for the annual event, the protesters held signs that read “Academy Awards: Support Good Jobs for Our Communities” and handed out fliers that read: “Why can’t Oscar go Union?"

SIS provides security for companies such as Apple, Twitter, EBay and Google. According to the company's website, the average wage for hourly SIS security officers in Silicon Valley is $19.77 per hour. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average wage of a security officer in California is $13.33 per hour.

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The group also rallied outside the Oscar luncheon in February hoping to deliver a letter to academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. However, she did not physically take the letter.

"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.”

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saba.hamedy@latimes.com

Twitter: @saba_h

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