Remember those janitors at the university of Miami who struck for two months, including a hunger strike by some of the workers, finally winning an agreement with their employer, Unicco Services, to use card check recognition? Well, they voted overwhelmingly to join the union.
The Service Employees International Union won the right to represent more than 400 janitors at the University of Miami on Thursday, creating the first union presence at the private school.The campaign was also notable, as is the hotel worker campaign that UNITE HERE is running, because it stressed the poor safety and health conditions that the Unicco employees were forced to work under.
"We won today!," an ebullient janitor, Maritza Paz, told a crowd of about 100 who gathered for a news conference on campus to announce results of the election.
As part of a previously-agreed upon election process, a neutral third party, the American Arbitration Association, verified that the union had won more than 60 percent support via signed worker pledge cards.
The official count stopped after the 60 percent threshold was reached, but union officials said they had more than 70 percent support in the card check process.
And as anti-union employers fear, the University of Miami victory is having ripple effects:
Union officials have now set their sights on organizing not just other university workers, including Unicco employees who work at Nova Southeastern University, but also Unicco janitors who clean malls like the Shops at Sunset Place.
After the news conference, workers delivered a letter to Sunset Place mall management to ask that they hire a responsible contractor who will provide higher wages and health insurance to its workers.
''It's been incredibly inspirational how you have UM workers working with janitors from the malls, security guards from the malls, janitors from Nova, and they're all talking together, working together, showing up together.,'' said SEIU spokeswoman Renee Asher.