Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tuesday's events and press conference

This morning, hunger striking student Tanya Aquino was urged to go to hospital, owing to high blood pressure and low pulse. She refused to go until she was able to speak to an administrator. As she approached Ashe, being pushed in a wheelchair, the building was locked down yet again. Eventually, Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Whitely agreed to speak to her, Jacob Coker-Dukowitz, and some other students and faculty.

We made our way over to the UC. The students expressed their frustration that the talks held after the sit-in of March 28th had been dropped and the university was taking no steps to resolve the process. Pat Whitely said that it was her understanding that talks between UNICCO and the SEIU were on-going. The students explained that there had been no talks for nearly two weeks now and the President Shalala should demand that UNICCO start talking seriously with the SEIU immediately. Pat Whitely called President Shalala, who refused to take 30 seconds to call UNICCO and tell them to be serious, but promised she would make a call tomorrow by noon (whether to Tanya or UNICCO was unclear to me). After that, Tanya was taken to hospital, where she was given intravenous fluids. She is now doing OK.

Tanya during the meeting with Pat Whitely at the UC.

At 2pm, there was a press conference at Freedom Village. Copies of a letter were distributed in which Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez invites UNICCO to let him help mediate a solution. Mayor Alvarez says "Protests over this issue [the appropriate method for the possible establishment of a union], accompanied by a hunger strike by the employees and their supporters, have prompted a critical need to engage in heightened negotiations." It's nice to see that the mayor gets it.

Also at the press conference, striking worker Feliciano Hernandez spoke eloquently about the lack of clarity over the university's role, and of the need to give justice and dignity to the people who work there. You can hear his remarks in the following two sound recordings (he speaks in Spanish but is translated every few sentences):

this is an audio post - click to play

this is an audio post - click to play

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