Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ashe lockdown, part III

this was written at around 5:30PM by jeanette smith of the miami friends, who has been sympathy-fasting for the last two days and is at freedom village with the workers. it is unclear from this report whether rev. steele was able to hold his scheduled press conference at freedom village... please feel free to post updates if you have any! our fearless reporters have not been able to follow this story, and would appreciate your help.


Reverend Charles Steele, the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, came straight from the airport to the Ashe Building at the University of Miami today. He was given permission to enter the building to negotiate with Donna Shalala [a group of female students had occupied the building, put tape over their mouths, and were humming "We Shall Overcome"]. Rev. James Bush joined him. The students were allowed to leave the building and are camped out on the lawn in front of the Ashe Building (in their tents). Rev. Steele made it very clear that if they are arrested, he will be arrested with them. Rev. Steele has given Unicco, and by extension, UM, 24 hours to resolve this with a card check. If it is not resolved by this weekend, he will return to Miami and Miami will see the largest march that they have ever seen. He says that he is from Alabama and he knows how to march. He says that this is for the country - that these workers have stood up for the country and he will not desert them even if it means filling up the jails in Miami.

I can't tell you the emotion that I feel - tears are flowing down my face - I finally see an end in sight. There is strength in unity - we are united and I truly feel the spirit in this tent.I wish I could even begin to relate the strength and wonder of the words that I'm hearing.

Blessings truly,


Anonymous said...

Since when do any of you give a rat's ass what a religious figure says? Why don't you go get Rev Jerry Falwell while you're at it? Or Pat Roberston?

You're only demanding the time frame you are because you know you can't sustain this once finals begin and time isn't on your side.

And you've now taken it too far - all the way across the Rubicon.

Liza Alwes said...

I'm not sure the meaning of anonymous's implication that the campaign for workers' justice on this campus shouldn't care about the opinions of religious leaders. I'm assuming it has something to do with the presumed general godlessness of "liberal" (i.e. progressive) politics, which is of course a ridiculous fallacy. Our campaign has benefited immensely from the inspiring words of community religious leaders and from their power to educate and organize support. Obviously, it's also true that many (though not all) powerful members of STAND, Faculty for Worker Justice, the SEIU, and of course the workers themselves have personal relationships with various higher powers and religious natures, from which they draw the inspiration and strength they need to continue fighting. It is ignorant and insulting for anyone to suggest that this very important campaign is the province of atheists, since its ranks include members of all the Abrahamic religions, as well as many Buddhists, Hindus, and people of a variety of other faiths.

As to the second point, it's true that the fight will be far more difficult once finals begin, and that we are desperate to finish this before the end of the year when many of the student activists must go home or to internships or studies abroad. However, this need is in no way suspect. The reason for it is that many of the workers who have - entirely within their rights - agitated for fair treatment and union representation are likely to eventually go off strike and return to work, where they are very much in danger of being fired in retribution for their pro-union activism. This is illegal, but it is something that UNICCO has done before: Zoila Mursuli was blatantly fired in a failed attempt to deter the pro-strike vote at the end of February. We want this to end because we don't want more workers to lose their jobs for legally pursuing the protection of their civil liberties.

Anonymous said...

(Troll alert. Please ignore.)

Anonymous said...

Interesting... you accuse UNICCO of breaking the law - but yet your strike is to take away UNICCO legal protections in demanding a secret democratic vote. Well it's not really interesting, more just plain stupid.

Liza - a university is a place to LEARN, please try to take advantage of it.

Liza "you're not on a first name basis with me" Alwes said...

Dear anonymous -

You can regurgitate meretricious propaganda with the best of them. Teach me how! I want to LEARN.

Anonymous said...

How is this propaganda??? Just please be educated on what the laws are... don't try to "spin it" - just PLEASE learn it!

To repeat... you accuse UNICCO of breaking the law - but yet your strike is to take away UNICCO legal protections in demanding a secret democratic vote.