Wednesday, March 15, 2006

More news from Haiti

we received this this morning from the Haitian workers' movement Batay Ouvriye:

This morning, March 15th, 2006, at 7:00 a.m., a Batay Ouvriye representative met President Shalala of the University of Miami. Our Statement in Solidarity with the Univ. of Miami workers was given to her, and as we had received, in the meantime, the group in struggles' denunciation of the University's false neutrality in the issue and the workers' demands (included below), we also formally gave them to her. We're informing the public in general and the workers at the University particularly, that, to our request that the situation be positively resolved in the workers interest, President Shalala responded that "it's already done". So, while we reiterate our solidarity with the workers' demands, follow-up remains essential for their complete satisfaction.

At Batay Ouvriye, we received the Univ. of Miami Janitors demands, supported by Concerned Faculty, Students, Parents, Community Members, Leaders & S.T.A.N.D. These are the sort of demands we, at Batay Ouvriye, know very well and we also know how cruel such situations are. That’s why we reinforce our intervention more yet, to demand that this situation be resolved in the interest of the workers. Here are the workers’ demands:

1.Living Wage
2.Health insurance, far beyond the « Employee Enrichment Program »
3.Respect workers’ right to organize and legal representation.
4.Have UNICCO renounce their anti-union actions, specifically that they:
- Interrogated employees about their union sympathies
- Spied on workers engaged in union activity
- Threatened employees with reprisals, including denial of overtime and reduction of work hours because they supported the union and engaged in union activity
- Accused employees of being disloyal for supporting the union and engaging in union activity
- Prohibited workers from talking about the union when at work
- Promised better treatment to employees who do not support the union
- Required workers to sign documents disavowing their support or the union

President Shalala claims neutrality and that she is not responsible for the UNICCO’S behavior. However, concerned faculty, students, parents, community members, leaders & S.T.A.N.D. have a different opinion. Indeed:

* It is not "neutral" for President Shalala to support UNICCO's call for an NLRB election rather than to respect the desire of the UNICCO workers for card-check recognition.

* It is not "neutral" to permit UNICCO officials to use University property to lobby their workers against unionization and at the same time to prohibit SEIU organizers from reasonable access to campus to tell their side of the story.

* It is not "neutral" for the Vice President for Human Resources to call public safety in an effort to halt the distribution of food, water, baby formula, and other supplies to UNICCO workers impacted by Hurricane Wilma.

* It is not "neutral" to attempt to limit the UNICCO workers' picketing to a reserve gate.

* And it is decidedly not "neutral" to demand that the SEIU follow the rules regarding "reserve gate" picketing when University and UNICCO officials reportedly haven't followed those rules themselves.

We urge President Shalala, once again, to immediately attend to the University of Miami janitors’ just demands, satisfying them in the respect of human social and economic rights.

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