The following is an SEIU press release, issued at 5.45 pm today:
MIAMI, March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- UNICCO Janitors who clean the University of Miami will take their picket lines to the airport tomorrow after efforts to resolve the strike failed. UNICCO janitors at the airport have indicated they will not cross picket lines established by their striking co-workers. The action could mean that hundreds of janitors who clean the airport will not go to work Tuesday.
About half of the janitors who work for UNICCO at the university are on strike to protest unfair labor practices committed against them while they united to form a union. Yesterday, striking janitors received $500,000 for their strike fund from the 1.8 million members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
**EVENTS FOR TUESDAY, MARCH 14**
Strike Spreads to Airport
Where: Miami International Airport (Justice Circle)
What: Janitors at UM will go to MIA and establish a picket line all along the concourse. Only 66 janitors are allowed to be at the airport and two janitors can be at each designated free amendment zone inside the concourse and at each picket zone outside the airport. The janitors at the airport work for UNICCO, the same company hired by the University of Miami to clean the campus. UNICCO janitors at the airport have the legal right to honor picket lines established at their workplace.
Janitors at the campus earn as little as $6.40 an hour and are not provided with health insurance. University President Donna Shalala has come under fire by a growing coalition of students, faculty, religious leaders, and community activists for not doing more to head off the strike by ensuring that UNICCO respects workers' right to organize for a living wage and affordable health insurance, free from intimidation.
Janitors at the University of Miami, most of whom are immigrants from Cuba, Haiti and South America, earn some of the lowest wages for campus janitors in the country. Unionized janitors who work for the same company in other cities earn higher wages and are provided health insurance. At Harvard University in Boston, UNICCO janitors earn between $13 and $14 an hour and have fully paid health insurance. But they didn't always. Janitors won the higher wages and benefits as the result of a two-year campaign on their behalf by students, the community, and SEIU.
In an already poor city, janitors at the University of Miami are some of the poorest, earning as little as $13,104 a year, less than half the county median.
UNICCO embarked on a vicious anti-union campaign including threats and interrogation after janitors on the campus started organizing with Local 11 for better wages, benefits, and respect on the job.