Friday, June 30, 2006

The administration's "response" to the faculty letter

Since it looks like the UM administration prefers to publish its response to the faculty letter in a newspaper rather than responding directly to the faculty, we trekked to Barnes & Noble and bought a copy of the Daily Business Review. Here is the administration's response:
To the Editor:

While we respect the views expressed by our faculty, it is unfortunate that these particular faculty members have chosen to publicize private, protected information about University of Miami students.

Because the university's principal concern is the well-being of its students, which includes maintaining confidentiality of disciplinary proceedings, it declines the opportunity to discuss the specifics of this matters.

It is worth noting, however, that the faculty letter contains many factual inaccuracies and mischaracterizations with regard to the events to date and is co-signed by only 110 members of the 2,600 faculty body.

The university's actions in this matter have been supported by a number of broad constituencies, including faculty, students, and alumni. The university continues to strongly believe that the students have been treated fairly, responsibly and in accord with its Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook.

University of Miami
The Daily Business Review is available online, but you need a subscription to read its content. To find a place near you where the Review is sold, click here. If you have comments and suggestions, click the "comment" link at the bottom of this post, then click "other", write whatever name you want to go by, ignore the webpage space, and write your heart out.

Faculty's letter to the UM Administration printed in today's Daily Business Review

The UM faculty's letter to the administration, protesting the latter's treatment of the students being disciplined for their role in supporting the janitors, appears in the Daily Business Review, along with a response from the administration. Unfortunately, you have to be a paid subscriber to read these, so unless the administration actually replies to the letter we sent them, we won't know what they're thinking. (If you haven't already, you can read the faculty letter here.)

Thanks to the Daily Business Review for providing the space for this debate.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Post by Michael Froomkin

We should have posted a link to this interesting comment on the student discipline situation earlier. It is from the blog, written by our colleague Michael Froomkin (UM, Law).

The Bush NLRB

An excellent post from Common Dreams about worrying goings-on at the NLRB:

Help Labor Stop Bush NLRB Assault on Workers' Rights
by Stewart Acuff and Sheldon Friedman

The last thing America's workers need is another economic kick in the groin, but the Bush labor board may soon deliver what could be its lowest blow yet. The Bush National Labor Relations Board is easily the most anti-worker labor board in history and has lost few opportunities to turn back the clock on workers' rights, but even against this sorry backdrop, the scope of what they now are contemplating is breathtaking.

In a series of pending cases known as Kentucky River, the Bush board could strip what remains of federal labor law protections from hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of workers whose jobs include even minor, incidental or occasional supervisory duties. The pending cases involve charge nurses in a hospital and a nursing home and lead workers in a manufacturing plant, but these workers could be just the tip of the iceberg.

The AFL-CIO and its affiliates will not stand idly by in the face of this unfolding workers' rights atrocity. We have declared a national week of action starting July 10 to protest against the Bush labor board at NLRB headquarters in Washington and at regional NLRB offices and other sites around the country. Members of Congress have been asked to urge the NLRB to permit oral arguments by workers who will be adversely affected by the pending decisions. This is the least the board can do before ruling in a matter of such importance, but so far Bush-appointed Chairman Battista shows every indication that he will deny even this modest request to allow these workers to be heard. [cont'd]

Letter Concerning Student Disciplining from UM Faculty to Administration

Today, the following letter was sent to Vice-President Whitely and Dean Sandler, signed by 110 UM faculty members (names posted in the first comment).

Dear Vice President Whitely and Dean Sandler,

It is with a mixture of indignation, sadness, embarrassment and weariness that we find ourselves forced to write another letter to advocate for justice at the University of Miami.

In the course of the last few months, our students have shown an array of human and civic virtues that one does not see often these days. Through peaceful and respectful demonstrations and with minimal disruption to campus life, they supported the fight for justice and dignity of people they barely knew. Anyone who has spent any time with these young people knows that they are gentle and respectful, that they care deeply about their academic careers, and that they have a keen sense of justice. These are qualities we all unequivocally encourage in our students. As former President Tad Foote told one professor, there was something noble in what these students did and he was proud of them. We agree.

The university administration has responded to the students’ actions on behalf of the janitors and groundskeepers first with harshness, and now with underhanded and petty strategies aimed at thwarting their right to an unbiased and fair hearing. We find this behavior deeply reprehensible and unacceptable at a university. A university is first and foremost about its students. These are our students. These are the people to whom we dedicate the largest part of our professional lives. These young people are the raison d’etre of what we do as faculty, staff, and administrators of this university.

The administration has used some deplorable tactics with the students. They served summonses to them in class, a violation of federal law (the Buckley amendment guarantees a student’s privacy) and of faculty rights as well as a disruption of the academic mission. They called students to "preliminary hearings" about potential serious charges, leaving the possibility of these charges hanging over them through commencement. They also were told that they had an "administrative stop" placed on their registration (in the middle of registration period) and they would have to see Associate Dean Singleton to register for classes. He is not an academic dean. He is their prosecutor and ought not to have anything to do with their registration. Along with the students and their lawyers, we see all of this as intimidation, something that should never take place at a university.

We deeply regret that these students have been targeted for disciplinary action for acting on the principles we teach regarding democracy and social justice. As currently implemented, the process by which they are being judged is profoundly flawed and characterized by arbitrary and unfair decisions. Specifically:

1) Students who pleaded not guilty were denied postponement of their hearings to the Fall, at which time they would appear before a University Disciplinary Hearing Panel including their peers. Instead, Associate Dean Singleton, who is a witness in some of the cases, now serves simultaneously as investigator, prosecutor, judge and jury. There are clearly multiple conflicts of interest here, and the students cannot possibly have an impartial hearing. Moreover, by holding the hearings in the summer, the students are deprived of valued advisors and witnesses to support their cases who are out of town. The first summonses were delivered on 21 April, which allowed sufficient time for hearings to take place with a full panel to adjudicate the cases and with supporting witnesses and advisors still on campus. This was not done, however, because the Dean of Students granted his own office a continuance to do additional investigation. How is it possible that the Dean of Students grant one side a continuance to be able to present its best case but not the other? The cards are clearly and purposefully stacked against the students and they cannot possibly have a fair hearing in these circumstances.

2) Some students have now seen added to their previous charges the further charge of unauthorized distribution of printed material. The violation cited from Students’ Rights and Responsibilities Handbook is B.16, which references the Poster Distribution and Advertising policy on p. 47. The policy refers specifically to advertising, and requires the approval of the Vice President for Business Services. The materials distributed by the students were not advertisements but statements relating to social justice. They were acts of free speech and therefore not covered by any advertising policy.

3) The students who pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges brought against them were given absurd and even insulting penalties, including community service. They are being punished precisely because they did hundreds of hours of community service to improve the University and South Florida’s communities by assuring that workers at UM have freedom of choice, the right to work with dignity and respect, and to earn a living wage. Moreover, these students regularly do other community service, working at clinics and homeless shelters, for various environmental and civic groups, etc. And now you are going to punish them by making them do such work? How inappropriate! Adding to this absurdity, students who have graduated or will graduate this summer or fall have been given two semesters of probation. When asked how this affects them, Associate Dean Singleton told these students that this punishment means nothing for them. Then why give it, except to be vindictive? Finally, two students have been singled out for a particularly spiteful punishment: the loss of campus housing in the fall at University Village.
We ask that all students who have been charged with offenses in relation to their peaceful and respectful protests during the janitors’ and groundskeepers’ strike be granted amnesty. We need to be a model of openness and dialogue, a beacon for the free exchange of ideas and true learning. To punish these students is to undercut these fundamental goals.


dear editor

Saturday, 6/24

Fluent in English

It pains me to see several Miami Herald readers write so viscerally against Ana Menendez's June 11 column, English-only proposal will hurt our nation. I am a bilingual speaker. English is not my first language. People often point to me as an example of someone whose linguistic behavior in the United States is the right and commendable one.

I, however, don't see anything meritorious in the fact that I speak English fluently while other immigrants don't. I don't know a single immigrant or, for that matter, anyone who wouldn't like to speak English fluently. Given the opportunity, I'm sure every immigrant would gladly learn English.

We must all work toward a culture of patience, kindness and generosity, not one of harsh and exclusionary laws.


Sunday 6/26

UM unjust to students

Ana Menendez deserves the community's gratitude for exposing the University of Miami's unjust treatment of students who protested the salaries and working conditions of UM janitors and grounds-keepers (Janitor's won rights; students weren't so lucky, June 21).

Many faculty are disappointed and bewildered by the administration's persecution of students who worked for the welfare of others. Even some faculty, like myself, who were not completely sympathetic with some of the Service Employees International Union's tactics, deplore the administration's short-sighted punishment of our students.

The punishment is not only ethically questionable but also pedagogically wrongheaded and pragmatically myopic. Educators know that much of what we hope will develop in students' intellects and imaginations happens outside the college classroom. What are we teaching students by throwing them out of university housing for defending their beliefs?

Yes, in a technically legal sense, they broke some rules. But just how disruptive were they? What protests over the past five decades on major college campuses -- including those where President Shalala presided -- did not break rules and inconvenience others?

During the protests, I heard that groups of prospective students touring the campus were attracted, not repelled, by our students' demonstrations of altruism and courage. It is not too late for the UM administration to reverse its course of action. In my 37 years at UM, I have never felt such a reversal is so critical to the ideals of a university.

RONALD NEWMAN, associate professor of English, UM, Miami

Monday 6/27

Perspective on Local Terror Suspects

I am not afraid of seven men who sell shampoo during the day and leap over chairs and do jumping-jacks by night -- even if they did, on occasion, discuss ways to stick it to The Man. I am, however, nervous watching the FBI target struggling young black men from low-income neighborhoods and making terrorists out of them. The 9/11 hijackers didn't hang out in the 'hood. But as the arrests last week show, we get back from our communities what we put into them.

I know Buena Vista and Liberty City, and I've watched urban development in Miami. It destroys the positive culture and social networks that have evolved in low-income neighborhoods over the years. People are run out of these neighborhoods, which are left with no affordable housing. There is no concern for a social safety net, only for real-estate values.

The seven men, it appears, were trying to find meaning and purpose in a time and place that considers poor, immigrant and nonwhite men, at best, disposable and, at worst, an obstacle to progress.

If their resentment built up over the years, they were and are not alone.

They may have talked big, but they were not armed and dangerous. So far, I've seen no convincing evidence of a serious plot or threat. What we have seen is a preemptive strike against our own. Shame on us for spying on and baiting our citizens, rather than making good on our American promises: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Shame on us for congratulating ourselves for putting these men in leg shackles. I will not feel safer until I see politicians actively foster the politics of tolerance, inclusion, dialogue, unity and hope, instead of fear, selfishness and ignorance.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Ana Menendez on Students' Disciplining at UM

Here is a column from today's Miami Herald by Ana Menendez concerning the disciplinary measures being taken against UM students for supporting the striking janitors:

Janitors won rights; students weren't so lucky

Almost four months after going on strike, the University of Miami janitors finally got their union last week. The story that began March 1 is almost over now, and the only ones left out of the happy ending are the 18 students who pushed the limits of the accepted in their support for the workers.

Even as the janitors celebrated, UM continued to persecute the students for their nonviolent protests on behalf of the strikers.

Faced with a rigged system -- lawyers say administrators were to function as witness, prosecutor, judge and jury -- students began settling their cases with the university at about the same time the union announced a majority of janitors had voted to join.

The settlements continue. Punishments have included academic probation, a 500-word essay and, most ironically of all, community service.

''Here we are being sentenced to community service when we're being tried for a service we did to the community,'' said Amy Sun, 21, a psychology major who pleaded no contest.


To hear UM tell it, administrators were left with little choice after students repeatedly refused to leave the grounds around the Ashe Building earlier this year. ''They were told there are appropriate ways of recognizing these points of view so you're not disrupting the orderly operation of the university,'' UM attorney Eric Isicoff said.

It's a reasonable argument that would be easier to swallow if this had been the case of a drunken mob. But these are stellar students, many of whom are attending UM on scholarship. For the most part, they camped out peacefully, troubling little more than the conscience of those who chose to simply walk by. They were engaged in a thoughtful act on behalf of a cause they saw as just. Surely the standards for judging them should reflect that.

Far more troubling than anything the students did is the way UM administrators have chosen to deal with it, going after students with a zeal that seems to have more to do with retribution than justice.

First, administrators threatened students with major charges that could get them expelled or suspended. When a who's-who of Miami's legal talent stepped forward to defend the students, UM quickly retreated, downgrading the complaint to ``university offenses.''

''Under their own rules, a student who is charged with a university offense is not entitled to right of counsel,'' said attorney Lida Rodriguez, who is advising Jacob Coker-Dukowitz, one of the student leaders. ``They did it not out of kindness but out of trying to deprive them of the assistance of an advisor.''

Then administrators insisted on holding the hearings in the summer, when students would not be available to sit on the ''juries.'' And in a tactic more befitting a second-rate spy caper, administrators apparently have hauled out photographs to help make their cases.

''They showed me this photograph and all you can see is this red goatee and something that looks like my nose,'' said Daniel Grossman, 21, a film major who lost his housing privileges as part of his settlement.


Late Tuesday, Coker-Dukowitz, who had been one of the hold-outs, joined the others in settling his case. He, too, loses his housing at the coveted University Village, punishment that also imposes a financial burden.

Isicoff maintains that the case against the students is not about free speech. UM, he said, is simply ``representing the right of a whole other group of people who do not wish to engage in this manner.''

In fact, this goes beyond the issue of free speech. In a town that is only now growing into the concept of peaceful dissent, the prosecution of the students -- however legally justified -- sets a sad tone.

Universities ought to be defending the lonely maverick. The world is already full of people willing to argue that the majority has a right to remain comfortable.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Encouraging News on a Blue-Green Alliance

This article from Grist Magazine describes a new alliance between labor and environmentalists who have not always enjoyed an easy relationship. Let's hope this alliance prospers.

Labor Gains

New green/labor alliance brings Sierra Club and Steelworkers together
By Amanda Griscom Little
16 Jun 2006

Organized labor and environmentalists -- engaged in an on-again-off-again flirtation for years -- may finally be getting to third base.

Last week, Carl Pope, head of the Sierra Club, and Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, announced the formation of the Blue/Green Alliance, linking the nation's biggest industrial labor union with the nation's largest environmental organization. Their motto: "Good jobs, a clean environment, and a safer world."

"The Blue/Green Alliance is one of the most important initiatives undertaken by the environmental movement in decades," said Pope at the launch event. Gerard said the creation of good jobs requires sound environmental strategy: "We cannot have one without the other." [cont'd]

Fuller Coverage - UPDATED

Fuller coverage of yesterday's events, and a nice picture, from the Miami Herald.

A nice piece from the Orlando Sentinel, here reprinted in the Broward County Sun-Sentinel. According to figures quoted in this piece, the first hard numbers we have seen, 290 out of 385 janitors voted for the union. That's 75%.

And there's a brief mention in the New York Times.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Further charges brought against students

It seems that two of the students facing disciplinary action have had a further charge brought against them: distributing literature. What was, presumably, the distributing of flyers or information supporting the workers' campaign to unionize is deemed, by the University, to be in violation of this paragraph from page 63 of the Students' Rights and Responsibilities Handbook:

Distributing or Posting Printed Materials (Poster Distribution and Advertising Policy on page 47) Unauthorized distribution or posting of printed materials in the University Center, Residence Halls, or other University campus facility is prohibited; failure to comply with the Distribution or Posting Printed Materials Policy is prohibited.

South Florida Campus Consortium

Jobs With Justice is helping to engender a new organization, the South Florida Campus Consortium, which will bring together students, faculty and staff from South Florida schools, colleges and universities to help promote social justice on their campuses. They are planning to kick off with a large summit for campus activists in the Fall semester. To begin preparing for that summit there will be an organizational meeting this Sunday, June 18th. Anyone who would like to get involved with this exciting project is encouraged to attend.

When: Sunday June 18 at 6pm
Where: IBEW Local 349 - 1657 NW 17 Avenue

If you are interested but cannot attend, or just to get more information, contact Mewelau Hall ( or Beni Yunis (, (305) 968 7542) both of UM, or Pablo Avendano (, (305) 720-1183) of FIU.

More great strike photos

Check out another great set of photos by Carlos Miller of Magic City Media, these for an exhibition by Miami Cultural Expressions.

It's Official!

Today, it was announced by the SEIU that 70% of the custodial workers employed at UM by UNICCO have signed cards asking the SEIU to represent them. The University and UNICCO have both declared themselves satisfied with the results, and UNICCO and the SEIU will now begin bargaining for a contract for the approximately 425 janitors and groundskeepers.

You can read the SEIU press release here.

Other coverage is supplied by the Miami Herald, CBS and the South Florida Business Journal.

After a press conference at which the results of the card check were announced, a delegation of workers, faculty, students and clergy went to Sunset Mall to deliver a message to Simon Property Group, the Mall's owner. Father Frank Corbishley explained to a representative of Simon Property Group that although janitorial staff at the Mall are employed by UNICCO, a three-way conversation between workers, UNICCO and SPG was essential, since SPG can choose whether or not it will contract with UNICCO for its services. You can just see the top of his head here as he reports back on the meeting.

After this, a busload of workers, students, clergy and union people hopped on a large bus heading for Broward County, where they went to meet workers and community activists from Nova.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Daily Business Review Covers Student Hearings

Check out this story from the Daily Business Review on the student discipline hearings.

UM dean to run hearing, decide students' fate
June 09, 2006
By: Jessica M. Walker

The University of Miami students who face disciplinary action for their roles in a janitors strike are facing an administrative process the students' attorneys believe was designed to deny them a fair hearing.

The timing of the charges against about 20 students puts the disciplinary proceedings in the summer months, which means the students will be tried and judged by a single dean. No trial date has been set.

If the charges had been leveled against them during the standard school year, the students would have been tried by a panel of students, professors and administrators. The rules are outlined in the student handbook.

Attorneys who volunteered to represent the students believe the set-up was intentional and designed to railroad the students for allying themselves with janitors who campaigned this year to organize under the Service Employees International Union.

"Obviously the fix was in from the beginning," said Lida Rodriguez, partner at Duane Morris in Miami and one of 23 attorneys aiding the students. "The fact that an academic institution would go through the farce of creating such an unfair process to blemish the records of these students is outrageous."

The university has retained Eric D. Isicoff of Isicoff Ragatz & Koenigsberg in Miami to aid with the disciplinary process. Isicoff said that retaining counsel for the hearings is not always done, but since the accused students hired counsel and because of the publicity of the case, the university retained him.

According to Isicoff, the timing of the charges was not intentional and the university is simply following the rules and procedure laid out in the student handbook."

Any notion of any sort of timing issue or conspiracy is totally without merit," Isicoff said. "The timing of events is the only reason we find ourselves dealing with this in the summer. Any suggestion of a conspiracy or timing issues is completely unfounded."

The charges arose from student participation in two months of peaceful protest on campus over the janitors' right to organize into a union. Their efforts included a hunger strike and a sit-in. The protests never got unruly or violent, but the administration insists the students were disruptive.

In late April, several of the students who protested were served with "administrative subpoenas," telling them the university was considering charges of disorderly conduct and failing to comply with school orders. The subpoenas were followed by questioning by a university dean. The questioning included showing the students photographs of the protest, and asking them to identify their friends and associates.

The students were not formally charged by the university until last week. The charges are classified as minor, meaning the punishment could be anything short of expulsion by the university. If the charges had come during the school year, the regular rules of procedure would apply. Since they were formally filed in the summer, a dean will serve as judge and jury for the students. Since the hearings are private, the students' attorneys will not be allowed to be present.

The university has been criticized in the media for punishing students who were engaged in peaceful protests. However, Isicoff says the students were disruptive, disturbed other students and obstructed movement of other students on campus.

"These matters don't have anything to do with the content or the subject matter of any views that were expressed," Isicoff said. "This strictly has to do with the behavior and conduct of the students. Expressing one's point of view is welcome. The University of Miami embraces that 100 percent. No one's ability to express themselves has been breached in any way."

Rodriguez disagreed.

"This is about punishing these students for having the nerve to stand up for what they believe in and sending a message to other students not to do the same," said Rodriguez, a UM graduate. "Even for a private institution, this is the height of unfairness. I'm sure there are parents of UM students that do not know who their hard-earned dollars are going to a system that's unfair."

The students had participated in weeks of peaceful protests on campus with the university janitors over their right to organize into a union. The efforts by the demonstrators included a hunger strike and a sit-in. The latter never turned disorderly or violent, and regular school activities were not cancelled.

Jessica M. Walker can be reached at or at (305) 347-6649.

Herald Piece on the Card Counting

The Miami Herald has a story on tomorrow's announcement of the card check at UM:

UM janitors' unionization vote to be announced tomorrow


University of Miami janitors today delivered their votes on union representation, with results to be announced tomorrow, the Service Employees International Union said today.

As part of the previously agreed election process, cards indicating support for the union were turned over to a neutral third party, the American Arbitration Association, the union said.

The votes will be verified and counted and results announced tomorrow.

The union must have at least a 60 percent majority in order to win the rights to represent the 400 or so janitors who clean UM's main and medical center campuses.

Some of those workers went on a nine-week strike against the university beginning in March to protest unfair labor practices against Unicco Services Co., the contractor that employs the workers.

After sit-ins by students, hunger strikes by workers, some local clergy and other activists, the union, the university and Unicco reached an agreement last month on how a union election would be held.

The university has already raised worker wages by at least 25 percent and offered access to a comprehensive health care plan.

Worth Thousands of Words

Here are two sources of visual images of strike-related events at UM. The first is of various podcasts produced by the SEIU. The second is a gallery of stills taken by Carlos Miller, of Magic City Media, of the March 28th student occupation of the Ashe building.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More on Student Disciplinary Actions

We reported some time ago that students pleading "not guilty" to the disciplinary charges made against them by the university were asking for a postponement of their hearings until the Fall. This is important because during the academic year, hearings are heard by a panel of three students plus an advisor from the Dean of Students office. During the summer, however, hearings are heard by a representative from the Dean of Students office alone. We have recently learned that at least some students have had their requests for postponement denied.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Cards Are In!

June 15 is International Justice for Janitors day. It commemorates a strike in 1990 by mainly immigrant cleaners in Los Angeles during which the janitors were savagely beaten by police.There was a huge public outcry and eventually the janitors won the strike.

This June 15 at 12 noon at the Episcopal Church at UM (the former "strike sanctuary") there will be an announcement of the card count which will officially guarantee recognition of a union for janitorial and groundskeeping staff at UM. There will also be a press conference. This is the official closure of the strike and, we are sure, it will be an emotional event. Since the end of the strike the janitors have worked hard to collect signatures, so come on out to celebrate their victory (again).

After the annoucement the janitors will get on a bus to attend the 3 pm forum at Nova Southeastern University. Nova's president, Ray Ferrero, appears determined to stop Nova's janitors, also employed by UNICCO, from trying to lift themselves out of poverty. At the SEIU sponsored public forum, community leaders will have an opportunity to learn first-hand about the economic injustice the janitors suffer at Nova. Nova janitors will offer personal testimonies. If you can, come and hear them out.

On the way to Nova the buses will stop at the Sunset Mall where UNICCO seems ready to make an agreement, but the mall owners, the Simon Property Group, might need a little encouragement. Concerned faculty and students, along with mall workers, will drop off a letter for the mall owners.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Could the Employee Free Choice Act Actually Pass in a Republican Congress?

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is an act that would enshrine in law workers' right to unionize via the card check process, rather than having to rely on the flawed system of elections run by the National Labor Relations Board. Although this bill enjoys extensive bipartisan support, until recently the conventional wisdom was that it would never pass while Congress was in Republican hands. According to this story from People's Weekly World, it seems that the bill is just two votes shy of a majority in the House. Stay tuned - and contact your congressperson to express your support of the bill.

Fifty-seven million Americans say they’d join a union if they had a chance. And due to a hard-fought, close to the ground campaign, legislation to give them that right is now within striking distance of victory.

Going against the tide and all conventional wisdom in a Republican-dominated Congress, the Employee Free Choice Act, HR 1696, first introduced in November 2003, now is just two representatives shy of an outright majority in the U.S. House of Representatives with 215 co-sponsors in addition to its sponsor Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). In the Senate, as S 842, it has 43 supporters.

To put the campaign over the top, representatives from 20 AFL-CIO unions gathered in Washington June 6 to map out a plan to deploy a massive army of workplace shop stewards, according to Stuart Acuff, organizing director of the federation. [cont'd]

More on recent anti-union activities

This post by Jordan Barab from Alternet discusses the UM strike a couple of times:

An article in Tuesday's New York Times about the Teamsters' campaign to organize Federal Express describes a typical example of how difficult it is to organize a union these days:

Not long after 21 of the 23 drivers in Northborough petitioned last fall for an election to join the Teamsters, FedEx dismissed five union supporters and six others quit, with several complaining that managers had made their lives unbearable.

"They started to harass and intimidate everybody," Mr. Williams said. "Some people they tried to starve out. Instead of giving 120 to 130 packages, they cut it to 60 or 70 to reduce the money."

Ken Flynn, a pro-union driver who was dismissed, said that after the unionization drive began, management added six managers to the three already there. The new ones, he said, spent much of their time speaking out against the union. FedEx says the new managers were assisting with the holiday rush and helping to transfer the operation to another terminal in Northborough.

To sway the drivers, FedEx prepared a 25-minute DVD that accused the Teamsters of being incompetent and violent.

Meanwhile, on another planet, readers of USA Today and other newspapers may have noticed a recent one-page ad by a new corporate supported anti-union outfit (mis)named The Center For Union Facts. The ad asks "Why is a union like a Roach Motel?"

The answer: "Because getting in is the easy part."

In that one heading lies the essence of the Center's lies, the reasons for its existence, and the state of the American labor movement today. The real union fact is that there is almost nothing harder than getting into a union these days -- particularly if the union chooses to use the classic secret ballot election process that has been the staple of union organizing for decades. [cont'd]

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

support nova janitors!

Remember UNICCO? it's UNICCO again, in a difficult, non-tenure-giving private school...

You’re Invited to a Community Meeting

Join Janitors from Nova and Community Members

Monday June 15 at 4:00pm

(Reception at 3:30pm)

St. Maurice Catholic Church

2851 Stirling Road, Dania


$7.25 an hour and no benefits.

That’s what the company that cleans Nova Southeastern University, UNICCO, pays some janitors. UNICCO provides no health benefits, making it nearly impossible for families living in Broward County to pay for basic necessities like food and rent.

Building on the success at the University of Miami, janitors at Nova and Community members are meeting to discuss how to improve pay, win affordable health insurance, and create a better life for working families at Nova and Broward County.

For more info call 305-672-7071 or stay tuned on this blog!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


i encourage you all to come to see ana menendez tomorrow at 8 pm at books and books in coral gables. ana is one of the most forceful and independent voices in the miami herald, and she single-handedly gave a voice to the UM janitors' strike in the paper (the editor wrote an anti-unionization -- anti-card check, to be precise -- editorial at some point). in this difficult political climate, ana can certainly use our support and appreciation. and, for those who haven't yet been there, books and books is a really cool place, with a full restaurant, bar, and cafe.

(directions to books and books: from US1, take le jeune north. pass miracle mile. the first right is aragon. take it. books and books is in the next block on your left. parking in the garage opposite the bookstore is free with validation)



Miami Herald Columnist Ana Menéndez was raised in California as the daughter of Cuban exiles— taught to memorize Jose Martí, thinking her family would soon move back to Cuba—living the kind of present that is perpetually affected by the past. Menéndez worked as a journalist for six years, first at The Miami Herald, where she covered Little Havana, and later with The Orange County Register in California. A graduate of NYU's creative writing program, she is the author of the collection of stories, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd and the novel, Loving Che. Tonight, she kicks off a new series at Books & Books – Between the Lines: Discussions with Miami Herald Columnists, which will bring you closer to some of your favorite Miami Herald columnists. Menéndez will take us into the world of a newspaper columnist, sharing her ideas about the writing process, daily focus as a columnist, and reflections about some of her most though-provoking columns. 8pm


i encourage you all to come to see ana menendez tomorrow at 8 pm at books and books in coral gables. ana is one of the most forceful and independent voices in the miami herald, and she single-handedly gave a voice to the UM janitors' strike in the paper (the editor wrote an anti-unionization -- anti-card check, to be precise -- editorial at some point). in this difficult political climate, ana can certainly use our support and appreciation. and, for those who haven't yet been there, books and books is a really cool place, with a full restaurant, bar, and cafe.

(directions to books and books: from US1, take le jeune north. pass miracle mile. the first right is aragon. take it. books and books is in the next block on your left. parking in the garage opposite the bookstore is free with validation)



Miami Herald Columnist Ana Menéndez was raised in California as the daughter of Cuban exiles— taught to memorize Jose Martí, thinking her family would soon move back to Cuba—living the kind of present that is perpetually affected by the past. Menéndez worked as a journalist for six years, first at The Miami Herald, where she covered Little Havana, and later with The Orange County Register in California. A graduate of NYU's creative writing program, she is the author of the collection of stories, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd and the novel, Loving Che. Tonight, she kicks off a new series at Books & Books – Between the Lines: Discussions with Miami Herald Columnists, which will bring you closer to some of your favorite Miami Herald columnists. Menéndez will take us into the world of a newspaper columnist, sharing her ideas about the writing process, daily focus as a columnist, and reflections about some of her most though-provoking columns. 8pm