Twin Cities security guards and the companies they work for are meeting today for the first time in nearly a month in an effort to come to an agreement about affordable health care.

Representatives of the five companies -- ABM, Allied Barton, American, Securitas and Viking -- and members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 26, which represents 800 security guards, have been at a stalemate on the issue of health care since security guards voted 278-11 last month to reject the security firms' latest offer.

Guy Thomas, a spokesman for the five firms, said they will present a new health care proposal and answer questions in hopes of coming to an agreement.

"Keep your fingers crossed and light a candle," he said.

Union officials have not said if security guards will go on strike if no agreement is reached. But security guards from other parts of the country have come to the Twin Cities to show their support for the local security guards should that happen.

Twin Cities security guards have been without a contract since the beginning of the year and are seeking a contract with improvements in wages and training standards along with affordable health care. The health care component is the last  unsolved issue.

The average security officer is paid $11.76 per hour and most do not have health insurance, union officials have said.

In March, several security guards handcuffed themselves together and encircled a kiosk in the IDS Crystal Court to call public attention to their quest to get the issue of affordable health care solved. Nine of them along with members of the clergy and community were arrested for civil disobedience. In February they staged a one-day walkout.