Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Bishop Estevez offers to mediate between President Shalala and the striking janitors

There is a link to this article in our sidebar, but this writer finds it so hard to believe that President Shalala will not meet with Bishop Estevez that she decided to publish the whole piece in a post all its own. Also, the intervention of such a high ranking member of the Miami clergy should give you a sense of the attention and support the striking UNICCO workers (many of them Catholic) are receiving.
Giovanna Pompele

Priest offers to mediate UM strike

A high-ranking Catholic priest on Sunday offered to broker negotiations between the striking University of Miami janitors, their employer, Unicco, and University of Miami President Donna Shalala.

Felipe Estévez, the Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Miami, encouraged all parties to reach an agreement during Mass at Saint Augustine Catholic Church in Coral Gables.
''He's trying to get the parties at least talking,'' said Brian Stevens, director of social advocacy with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami. ``He asked that both sides come together for a meeting to begin negotiations and reach a settlement.''

Janitors voted to strike a week ago, demanding a living wage. They earn some of the lowest wages at any major U.S. university, they say, averaging $7.53 per hour, and they lack healthcare benefits. They are employed by Unicco services. Last week, UM announced formation of a ''working group'' to review compensation and benefits for contract employees.

About half of the campus' 200 janitors were on strike, including workers who clean dorms, classrooms and athletic facilities, said Renee Asher, a spokeswoman for Service Employees International Union, which helped workers stage the strike.

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