Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Neutral? Another Evil Union Should be Stopped

According to a recent email we all received from UM President Shalala, the University has taken a "neutral" stance on the current effort of UNICCO employees to unionize. UNICCO is the company the University uses to maintain the grounds, i.e. janitorial labor. Neutral? Why?

How can it possibly be in the best interests of the University or its students if the UNICCO workers unionize? Unions=higher labor costs, inability to fire incompetent workers, corruption, and a whole host of other evils. Isn't the UM President's job to look out for the best interests of the University and its students?

Even if one supports unionization in spirit (i.e. you're a dopey marxist bleeding heart), from an employer's viewpoint there is nothing good about unions. One could argue that faced with possible unionization of its labor force, corporate management owes its shareholders a duty to use all legal means necessary to stymie unionization efforts.

UNICCO eployee's aren't UM employees. But, UNICCO is a supplier and the UM administration has a duty to keep costs down just like any manager has a duty to avoid waste. If one of your suppliers faces the prospect of having to raise his prices for whatever reason, it seems to me the appropriate thing to do is help avoid that outcome by whatever legal means available. It should come as no surprise to anyone that UNICCO ain't the only company in Miami-Dade that can provide inexpensive janitorial labor. Perhaps someone should remind UNICCO and its employees.

Knock knock, my fellow students. A tuition hike is calling...anybody home?


  • At 1:25 PM, Blogger Jake said…

    UNICCO has done everything possible, including breaking the law (several unfair labor practice violations are pending):
    1. workers are threatened with their job
    2. workers are held in mandatory anti-union meetings where they are told their IQ is low if they join a union
    3. It is workers legal and moral right to bargain collectively if they feel their wages are too low.
    Whereas, Too low= below the federal poverty line (literally)
    Whereas, Too low= Nelson Hernandez who worked here for 25 years and hasn’t had a ten cent wage raise
    Whereas, Too low= Yelba Diaz who had a heart attack that costs her $40,000. She makes $13,000 a year. She will never make it out of debt alive. Her children will carry the burden of not being able to go to the same schools or other activates.

    Whereas, Too low= literally not being able to feed your children. If not that, then never seeing them because you work two to three jobs.

    Before you counter with free market ideology (as fundamentalist and destructive an ideology as any Marxist’s), and "why don’t they get another job". Ywo things:

    First tenant of the free market is people behave rationally. Thus, there are no other jobs available, otherwise they would take them. (that’s the obvious one- Miami is third worst in poverty in the nation, with the fifth highest cost of living- well on our way to becoming a service oriented economy)

    Second, letting the market determine the income is obviously not feasible- not one of these Unicco workers can live solely on what the market determines. More than that, UM (as the faculty senate along with student government, stated, when they voted nearly unanimously for a living wage in 2001),

    "has a civic responsibility to ensure that its contracting practices do not contribute to a class of working poor whose income must be subsidized by the local government and charitable resources to live healthy dignified lives...[Employing companies who pay sub poverty wages is wholly inconsistent with UM's responsibility to the community]

    A further note: the faculty senate also noted that funding the living wage would cost very little relative to UM’s endowment and resources. Its wholly possible to do it without tapping student tuition, and nor should it. Why should the students have to bear the burden that UM openly pursued?

    In terms of a union, it’s the workers legal and moral decision to form a union or not. As for a living wage, there is no response but one of horror that we have not implemented one yet. In one of the richest institutions, in the richest nation, the issue of a living wage- the most basic amount needed for subsistence- should not even have to be brought up.

  • At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Jeff said…

    Why should one person who has three children automatically make more money than one who has no children? This is the definition of a living wage if you are not familiar with it. Unicco employees get paid $7.40 per hour. I have lived off of less than this before. I am sorry, but these employees are going to be and deserved to be fired.


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