It’s Official: SEIU Invited to Organize UM Workers

As predicted:

A majority of janitors and other contract workers at the University of Miami decided to join the Service Employees International Union, the organization announced Thursday, capping a battle with their private employer that included a walkout and hunger strike by some employees.

More than 60 percent of the 425 workers with Unicco Service Co. favored joining the union, organizers said. The results were certified by the American Arbitration Association.

“We are invisible no more. It is an incredible feeling to finally have a voice and the strength to improve our lives,” said Maritza Paz, a janitor.

Unicco spokesman Doug Bailey said the two sides will now begin collective bargaining.

–AP via

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6 Responses to It’s Official: SEIU Invited to Organize UM Workers

  1. Sue Ann Campbell says:


  2. Brett Bellmore says:

    I still think it’s quite revealing that pretty much everybody agrees that it’s easier for a union to get 60% in an election where the ballots are not secret, and people are thus subject to individual retaliation based on their choice of how to vote, than to get 50% on a secret ballot, where they can vote WITHOUT fear of individualized retaliation.

    It says a lot about who REALLY relies on intimidation.

  3. michael says:

    And I think that reaction reveals something about the commentator. Might I suggest you begin your education by reading about the Smithfield litigation?

    You can learn a lot at Smithfield. It’s a case study in both the butchering of hogs (some 32,000 are slaughtered there each day) and the systematic exploitation of vulnerable workers. More than 5,500 men and women work at Smithfield, most of them Latino or black, and nearly all of them undereducated and poor.

    Workers are cut by the flashing, slashing knives that slice the meat from the bones. They are hurt sliding and falling on floors and stairs that are slick with blood, guts and a variety of fluids. They suffer repetitive motion injuries.

    The processing line on the kill floor moves hogs past the workers at the dizzying rate of one every three or four seconds.

    Union representation would make a big difference for Smithfield workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has been trying to organize the plant since the mid-1990’s. Smithfield has responded with tactics that have ranged from the sleazy to the reprehensible.

    After an exhaustive investigation, a judge found that the company had threatened to shut down the entire plant if the workers dared to organize, and had warned Latino workers that immigration authorities would be alerted if they voted for a union.

    The union lost votes to organize the plant in 1994 and 1997, but the results of those elections were thrown out by the National Labor Relations Board after the judge found that Smithfield had prevented the union from holding fair elections. The judge said the company had engaged in myriad “egregious” violations of federal labor law, including threatening, intimidating and firing workers involved in the organizing effort, and beating up a worker “for engaging in union activities.”

    Rather than obey the directives of the board and subsequent court decisions, the company has tied the matter up on appeals that have lasted for years. A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling just last month referred to “the intense and widespread coercion prevalent at the Tar Heel facility.”

    And then you wonder why workers mistrust the slow, unreliable, easily manipulated,NLRB election system?

  4. Simon Evnine says:

    And then there’s the fact that there is actual evidence that employers intimidate workers during NLRB elections, of the kind given by Michael concerning the Smithfield case. Does Brett Bellmore actually have any evidence of intimidation that is comparable?

  5. michael says:

    I’m certain that some workers somewhere have tried to intimidate someone. It’s a big country; it must happen. But I’m also certain that as a general matter it is far less threatening than the things employers frequently threaten: being fired, losing chances for overtime or promotion, getting awful assignments, or having modern Pinkertons set on you. And even when acting legally, employers have a huge range of intimidating tactics available, and union-busing law firms are all too glad to recommend them.

  6. burt says:

    There seems to be very deep planning going on here. SEUI should have a strategy of supplanting the NRLB ballot with the open petition style as that favors their expansion. Any discussion of why this bias exists seems to stop at the question of intimitation, on one side or the other. There are other plausible factors other than intimidation. A person might be more apt to risk if they knew that risk would be publically noted.

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