S.T.A.N.D. rally and RAK Speak Out

Students Toward a New Democracy (S.T.A.N.D.) and Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) will be at the Rock holding a Speak Out at noon to show their appreciation for University of Miami cleaners and landscapers, whose contract expires on Tuesday.

S.T.A.N.D. and RAK members intend for it to be an event of unity.

“I want to be able to show UM workers and UNICCO that student appreciation is still there and all workers should be treated with respect and given wages above the poverty line,” said Stephanie Sandhu, a S.T.A.N.D. member.

A few workers will share stories about their personal backgrounds and why they should be getting higher wages.  Then, one member from each S.T.A.N.D. and RAK will speak.

After, the participants will take a letter to UM President Donna Shalala’s office to vocally support the workers’ requests for higher wages and other benefits.

Two weeks ago, these workers held a rally to vote on the authorization of a strike against UNICCO, the company that subcontracts them to the university. When the workers’ union tried to negotiate with UNICCO on a renewal of their four-year contract, the company created a freeze on wages, one-year contract and rejected most of their other proposals.

Monday through Wednesday of last week, the bargaining committee of the union and UNICCO Vice President of Labor Relations, the UM general manager and another UM manager went through hours of negotiation.

“We’re still very far apart,” says Eric Brakken, Florida Director of the Service Employees International Union. “Frankly, they’re no longer demanding workers take no raises. But wages are extremely low at a 25 cent raise.”

The committee could not get UNICCO or UM to budge on considering the other major requests, except time off on Martin Luther King Day.

Tomorrow, they will meet with UNICCO and UM representatives for a last attempt at resolution for a renewal of the workers’ contract.  If needs are not met, workers will strike.

Andrea Concepcion may be contacted at aconcepcion@themiamihurricane.com.