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28108: (Fondation Ayizan (announce) Re: 28099: Hermantin(News)Shalala to push for Haiti's health (fwd)

From: Fondation Ayizan <fayizanv@hotmail.com>

From: Batay Ouvriye - batay@batayouvriye.org


We, at Batay Ouvriye, received the invitation to a reception in honor of
University of Miami President Donna Shalala and Author Dr. Laurie Garrett
for a discussion about Haiti, its health care programs and problems. We
consider this a worthy activity. We wish to take the occasion to point out,
however, that while Mrs. Shalala is in this way demonstrating her concrete
concerns for the health situation in Haiti, she is at the same time putting
Haitian and many other workers on the line at the University she heads
concerning the same basic needs!
 "As Miami-Dade's largest single employer, the University of Miami has a
special obligation to be a leader in the fight against poverty. Yet, the
university's policies have actually increased Miami-Dade's poverty rate. In
an already poor city, janitors at the University of Miami are some of the
poorest, earning as little as $13,104 a year, less than half the county
median, which means as little as $6.40 an hour without employer-paid health
insurance". According to the Service Employees International Union, UM
janitors, most of whom are immigrants from South America, Cuba and Haiti
earn some of the lowest wages for campus janitors in the United States.
"Wages are low, and benefits almost nonexistent for campus janitors, because
cleaning contractors have to bid the work. Responsible contractors who pay
higher wages and provide affordable health benefits can not possibly compete
for work with contractors who do not. That is why university presidents
around the country have made it a priority to only hire responsible
contractors for their campuses. The result has been for contractors to bid
on the quality of their work, rather than driving wages and benefits down.
University President Donna Shalala has been unwilling to commit the
university to funding higher wages and affordable health insurance for the
UNICCO janitors. UNICCO embarked on a vicious anti-union campaign including
threats and interrogation after janitors on the campus started organizing
with Local 11 for better wages, benefits, and respect on the job.
Faced with all of this, on February 1, 2006 the National Labor Relations
Board (NLRB) issued a formal complaint against UNICCO and on February 26th,
janitors voted overwhelmingly to authorize strike at the University of

Consequently, as we denounce these double standards, we exhort Mrs. Shalala
to positively respond to the janitors' demands at the University of Miami,
including those concerning health care. We extend our solidarity to these
workers repressed and in struggle and, at the same time, urge the Haitian
public in general to similarly support this just cause by urging Mrs.
Shalala to do the right thing in this situation.