Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Message in a Bottle

A very welcome letter in today's Herald from David Bonior. I believe that, despite our best efforts, this is the first time the Herald has printed, in any format, the information about the deficiencies in NLRB elections. Better late than never.

Re Michael Putney's May 3 Other Views column, UM janitors' strike -- Shalala: 1; union: 0: The headline suggests that Putney doesn't understand why University of Miami workers walked off the job. Of course they want a better wage and some health coverage. But more than that they want something that can't be taken away or slashed a year from now, a voice at work -- a union. And now they will have a fair shot at it through a card check, the process that Unicco, the UM subcontractor involved, has agreed to all across the country.

The union recognition process for which UM and Unicco held out is an increasingly discredited procedure. The current process administered by the National Labor Relations Board is widely acknowledged to be a broken system that invites abuse. Recent research by American Rights at Work found that in the weeks leading up to an election, 30 percent of employers faced with organizing
drives fire pro-union workers, and 51 percent coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery or favoritism.

Putney referred to the janitors as ''unsophisticated immigrant workers'' and alleged that the media were somehow to blame for buying into a ''respect/justice motif.'' The disrespect is breathtaking. Seeking decent wages for honest work is not a zero-sum game where the workers gain at the contractor's expense or the university triumphs over its workers.

UM, Unicco and the janitors all deserve praise for coming together and agreeing to terms that are fair and grant the workers a voice on the job.

DAVID BONIOR, chair, American Rights at Work, Washington, D.C.

Two other items from the Herald in recent days: a great wrap-up column from Ana Menendez, reflecting on the whole struggle. And a piece from the business section discussing the future.

And this from the Coral Gables Gazette, dealing especially with the student disciplinary hearings.

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