tour updates from LWAC | more
on the campaign at UMiami
UMiami Students Strategize to Support
March 5, 2006
has been working with the amazing UMiami student living
wage activists of Students
Towards A New Democracy (STAND) ever since our 2-day
LWAC training in October 2005. A couple weeks ago, students
found out that UMiami janitors (employed by contractor
UNICCO) planned to strike for living wages, healthcare
and union recognition by a card-check.
Students called LWAC to set up an all-day strategizing
session to plan out the next month as this campaign
escalates more and more!
The strike began this past Tuesday. On Friday, the
day before I arrived, students organized a huge march.
An estimated 500 students, faculty, UNICCO workers and
community members blocked major intersections as they
circled the campus. STAND, along with workers, is calling
on university president Donna Shalala to commit funds
to ensure UNICCO workers get a living wage and healthcare,
and stop blocking UNICCO workers from organizing with
Employees International Union local 11.
might remember Donna Shalala as the Secretary of Health
& Human Services during the Clinton administration
— . Despite claiming her "greatest regret"
from her years under Clinton is "that we didn't
put health care for low-income working families"
(New York Times, 1/16/01), Shalala has thus
far allowed UNICCO janitors and other campus workers
to live without any healthcare coverage. This irony
is only surpassed by the fact that Shalala was the subject
of a luxury home profile last month in the New York
Times Magazine while she simultaneously refused
to ensure campus workers are paid living wages. STAND
continues to demand that Shalala does the right thing
and accepts workers' demands.
Our training was on Saturday. I was joined by Anna
and Aaron, two student organizers of the legendary Harvard
living wage sit-in. We shared experiences from our
own direct action experiences (I was a hunger striker
at Georgetown) and guided the UMiami students' discussion
about goals, tactics, and more. Check the LWAC site
often as we try our best to keep up with all the exciting
news to come from STAND's campaign!
had the pleasure of staying in town through an exciting
event on Sunday. On Sunday morning, Miami Bishop Felipe
Estavez held a "janitors' mass" for the striking
UNICCO workers at the Catholic church across the street
from UMiami's campus. After the mass, STAND students
greeted and encouraged a crowd of some 40 janitors and
their families as Bishop Estavez spoke to several television
news cameras, publicly calling on President Shalala
to finally meet with the workers and come to an agreement.
With all this pressure building, President Shalala
cancelled her speaking event scheduled for tomorrow
(Monday) night that was supposed to celebrate the "MomentUM"
fundraising campaign that recently passed $1 billion.
Clearly, workers and students have really begun to disrupt
Shalala's daily life until she decides to give in and
Working with STAND was a thoroughly energizing experience:
these students will be, without a doubt, at the forefront
of a major victory for living wages and the right to
organize on campus this semester!
The heat is on in Miami!!
- Jack, jack(at)livingwageaction.org