Four years ago, workers janitors and grounds-keepers at the University of Miami, employed by the subcontractor UNICCO, went on strike to be allowed to form a union. After a long hunger strike, and with the support of students, faculty, clergy and local politicians, UNICCO agreed to recognize their membership in the SEIU. A four-year contract, with a living wage and a number of improvements in working conditions, was negotiated.
That was four years ago. Now the contract is up for renegotiation. The bargaining team for the workers have made a number of proposals for the new contract which have been rejected out of hand by UNICCO. Among these proposals are: 1) a new four-year contract; 2) a very modest 75c per hour wage increase to help offset the 9% increase in the cost of living in the last four years; 3) improved safety for workers at night; and 4) mandated rest periods for grounds-keepers when the temperature is above 100F. A further post will reproduce a more extensive list of the proposals.
Today, at the Venerable Bede Episcopal Church, the workers rallied and voted to authorize the bargaining team to call for a strike if a new contract is not agreed on by September 1st.
The strike four years ago was a harrowing experience for all concerned: the workers, students, faculty, and administrators. It is our fervent hope that another strike will not be necessary. But we are reviving this blog to provide information of developments and support for the workers. Should a contract be renegotiated successfully in the next couple of weeks, we will gladly lapse into quiescence again.
Watch this space!
Si se puede!