Monday, March 27, 2006

today's SEIU press release: a "super" majority

MIAMI, March 27 /PRNewswire/

University of Miami striking janitors announced today they reached a "super" majority or 57 percent of striking and nonstriking janitors who want the right to decide for themselves how to form a union. Janitors at the University of Miami went on strike 27 days ago to protest unfair labor practices committed against workers who support the union.

Both striking and nonstriking janitors signed the cards calling for UNICCO to allow them, and not the company, to decide what type of election they want to pursue. Card-check elections are a very common and worker friendly way for janitors to join the union. On the other hand, during NLRB elections employers can drag out the process and stop workers from having a union by throwing up a long string of legal roadblocks that can take years to resolve.

Public attention generated by the strike has inspired janitors at other sites to step up efforts to form a union, and has created a sense of hope in South Florida that good jobs can be fought for and won.

UNICCO allows janitors to choose card-check elections in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Connecticut. However, in Miami, UNICCO has publicly refused to allow the janitors to choose a card-check election; instead they have embarked on anti-union campaign to intimidate workers from organizing with Local 11 and insisted that the janitors subject themselves to a NLRB election that could take years.

The janitors signed the cards despite threats from UNICCO over the past week that janitors would be fired for striking. "They called me over the weekend and said that If I didn't go back to work that they would fire me," said janitor Elmis Loredo. "Their words were supposed to send a chill through the whole community. But we will not be intimidated any longer. We have won a great deal, not just for us, but for all the workers on campus. And now our success is spreading hope to other workers that they too can win better wages and affordable health insurance."

Even though janitors are on strike for unfair labor practices and therefore cannot be fired, UNICCO has been contacting janitors and trying to send a chill through the strike by telling workers they can be fired for striking. While NLRB rules do allow companies to legally fire the striking employees after 30 days if the employees are striking to force a company to recognize a union, they do not allow companies to fire workers who are on strike to protest unfair labor practices.

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