Friday, March 31, 2006

the UNICCO spin machine

we hate to give any publicity whatsoever to UNICCO's no-comments-allowed blog, universitytruth, so we'll let you google it if you want to see it. it is a very aggressive, bitter site that, frankly, speaks for itself.

today they posted this entry:

The End is Near
March 30th, 2006

With the deadline looming on its 30-day recognition strike, the SEIU has to end its picketing, chanting and tub-thumping today and the few striking workers have to come back to work. Meanwhile, a meeting between all the parties called for by UM President Donna Shalala will convene soon and we expect the message in that gathering will be clear: “Let ‘em vote.” The union really has no alternative except to try and bolster more support among students, but they will soon be departing for summer vacation. It’s over. I feel kind of sorry for the students whose heads have been filled with union mush. But, hey, students and protests used to go hand in hand and it’s actually good to see students seriously engaged in something other than keg parties. And, it’s the last chance they get to stick it to the man before they become the man.

let us make a couple of things clear:

first, the unicco workers are not engaged in a recognition strike. recognition strikes are strikes aimed at unionization. by law, they are allowed to go on for thirty days only [1]. the unicco workers are engaged in an unfair labor practices (ULP) strike. ULP strikes can go on indefinitely. that UNICCO is selling this strike as a recognition strike suggests to these writers that they are ready to start firing the workers any day now. this is of course illegal, but you know how it is with illegal things: sometimes they take time to be rectified, and when they are, the rectification is not always satisfactory.

the unfair labor practices the UNICCO workers at UM are striking against are various. very pointedly, they include the violation of their right to organize, including firing and suspension of workers involved in lawful organizing activities. so when UNICCO says "let 'em vote," one gets worried. because, you see, during the weeks and days prior to a secret ballot vote, the workers will be spending a heck of lot of time with their UNICCO surpervisors. and one is hard pressed not to imagine that those supervisors will do all sorts of things to "persuade" them that unionization is a really bad idea. just look at UNICCO's no-comments-allowed blog. do these guys strike you as fair, caring, and hands-off? if so, we have a bridge we'd like to sell you.

long story short, a secret ballot election is a bizarre thing to go for when the workers are complaining that the employer is violating their right to organize. a secret ballot election does not include a commitment of neutrality, which leaves the employer free to wage war against the union from a very strong position of power over the workers. we have covered card check elsewhere, so won't go into the technicalities of it again. but card check is a much more relaxed process. it takes a few days. the workers can talk among themselves, go home, mull it over, consult the union, consult their families. there's not the same kind of pressure. almost universally, workers prefer it. it's not difficult to see why.

second, keg partying is not the sole activity of UM students. it is not even the activity UM students mostly engage in. how dare UNICCO insult our students thus? has UNICCO met them in classrooms and hallways? does UNICCO know them by their names? has UNICCO seen how hard they work and how serious they are? obviously not. we, on the other hand, have. and we have seen an awful lot of students who, far from wanting to stick it to the man, are all into sticking with their fellow human beings.

the students who sat in ashe for 14 hours on tuesday were not on a high-jinks kick. they had absolutely nothing to gain from doing what they did. they risked a lot -- including the abuse of disrespectful people like the writers of universitytruth -- for the sake of total strangers. these are the university of miami students.

as for summer vacation, the workers are not going anywhere and we bet the students who have fought for them won't go anywhere either. these are not students who are easily deterred. just in case you didn't notice.

fwj

[1] let us be really precise on this: what cannot go on past 30 days is recognitional picketing. the workers can stay on strike for as long as their (non-existent) savings accounts allow.

1 comment:

Simon said...

You faced them down with your post, FWJ. If you check out their blog, they've removed the offensive post.