An update from Jeanette Smith of the South Florida Interfaith Committee on Worker Justice::
The workers at UM went on a hunger strike 4 days ago; since then, they've had nothing but water to drink. As part of a South Florida Interfaith Committee on Worker Justice meeting, board members including interfaith clergy visited yesterday around mid-day. It broke my heart when workers would ask me questions (I speak Spanish) about what I thought would happen to them? Did people know about them? Did they care?
Then Isabel, one of two Peruvian women that I was speaking to, asked me if I thought it would be possible for her to get communion? I spoke to Father John, one of our Board members, and he quietly met with her sharing the sacrament. I promised Isabel that I would be back later and did go back after some evening meetings in the area.
This morning I stopped by on my way to a meeting and looked for Isabel but she wasn't there -- she had been rushed in an ambulance to the hospital. Hopefully, Isabel will be fine but what of these other workers?
Channel 4 has reported the hunger strike as "a hunger strike of sorts." Students may join the hunger strike by the middle of next week and are gradually cutting out various foods but the workers have not been on a hunger strike of sorts -- this is day 4 without any food and with only water.
Is there no hunger strike if students aren't involved? Don't the lives of these workers matter? Please, whether you support the concept of a hunger strike or not, you must support these workers. They need us -- they need to know that we're here and that we care. Please don't let their sacrifice be in vain.
The workers have been clear from the beginning -- they are only asking to have their card check recognized and to be able to organize. They know that to be secure for their futures, they need to be organized. And as Isabel said to me yesterday, "[She was] doing this for those that couldn't."