Monday, March 13, 2006

Interfaith Committee Update

Here is a (very slightly abridged) e-mail from Sara Shapiro, detailing the role of the South Florida Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice in the events of the last week.


We want to... highlight the role of the Interfaith in just this past week.

First, Chairman Martinez became involved only after receiving a visit from Interfaith's President Bishop Ottley Wednesday morning.

Second, Interfaith's Brian Stevens broke the story with reporter Ana M. about Shalala's trip to Haiti to talk about health care.

Third, Interfaith's Board Member Bishop Estevez called for a just resolution during his Mass for the janitors last Sunday.

Fourth, keep in mind that, for over two weeks now, over 200 UM classes were held in alternative locations, many in churches and synagogues, to demonstrate solidarity with the striking workers. One outdoor location at the edge of campus had 10 classes being held simultaneously. Professors have to put out big umbrellas and signs announcing which class was theirs. It is a sight to behold! Interfaith is coordinating the alternative classroom effort.

Fifth, An Op-Ed piece supporting the workers' dignity was written by Bishop Ottley and is to run soon in the Miami Herald.

Sixth, now a small group of clergy in Broward and close to Nova Southeastern University have sent a letter to NSU's President, requesting a meeting with him by next Friday. Since over 62% of NSU's workers have signed cards in favor of a union, it could be that those workers ride into unionization right after UM workers win.

Seventh, Fr. Frank Corbishley of the UM Episcopal Student Center has opened the doors of his church as "Strike Sanctuary" on campus, welcoming the swelling numbers of strikers to come for rest, meetings, lunch, and a daily prayer service led by Interfaith leaders. Fr. Corbishley's hospitality has provided a spiritual sanctuary, resulting in the workers being reassured of God's presence with them. Fr. Frank has also participated in rallies, marches, and picket lines, which, one day, included a Haitian band, resulting in him dancing with the workers.

The past week has been very exciting for Interfaith's solidarity with low wage workers!

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