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News :: Labor
Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
26 Apr 2006
Modified: 03:59:46 AM
A major labor campaign involving janitors in Miami, which overlaps the immigration issues on the front burner at the moment,has been taking place for the last 3 weeks, and a Boston-based corporation is the main target of this campaign. Check out Miami IMC for updates, including visits from SEIU's Stern and other high-profile figures.
Miami, Boston Immigrant Janitors Fasting in Protest of Civil Rights Abuses by UNICCO
by Yes We Cane

One day after massive rallies by immigrant workers across the country, immigrant janitors from Miami and Boston are continuing the call for justice. The workers and their supporters are fasting all day Tuesday to protest civil rights abuses around the country by the Boston-based cleaning company, UNICCO Services. Many of the workers' supporters are "giving up their lunches" today and refusing to eat as a show of solidarity.

"We work hard, but they treat us like dogs," said Luz Espinoza, a janitor at the University of Miami. "We only want the chance to reach the American Dream, but when we talk about making changes, we are threatened. We need a union to protect ourselves and our families."

The Florida janitors, who clean the campuses of the University of Miami and NOVA Southeastern University, are uniting to win safer workplaces and better jobs by forming a union with SEIU. Their effort has won broad public support in a state where few workers, let alone low-paid immigrants, have the protections and higher wages of a union job.

UNICCO's response to the historic effort has been an unprecedented crackdown on immigrant workers' civil rights. Over the past 8 months UNICCO has threatened, fired, spied on, and coerced janitors who they suspect of supporting the union, frequently targeting leaders for reprisals.

"Once again we find ourselves forced to stand up in downtown Boston and condemn the unethical behavior of this outlaw company," said Reverend Hurmon Hamilton of the Roxbury Presbyterian Church. "UNICCO's policies are reckless, destructive, and inhumane. Employers should be rewarding the hard work of these janitors, not violating their civil rights. We call on UNICCO to end the civil rights abuses of workers everywhere."

Janitors in Boston who work for UNICCO are joining the struggle of the Miami janitors out of concern that the company's civil rights abuses could spread. UNICCO cleans International Place, Copley Mall, the Hynes and BCEC Convention Centers, and the Harvard campus, among other locations. In 2002, a similar crackdown by UNICCO in Boston led to a 3-week strike by SEIU janitors.

In Miami, more than a dozen UNICCO janitors and students are in the second week of a fast of their own, protesting UNICCO's actions. They are hoping University of Miami President, former Clinton Administration official Donna Shalala, will intervene and call on UNICCO to end its poor treatment of the workers and allow them to form a union with SEIU free of intimidation and coercion.
See also:
http://miami.indymedia.org/
http://picketline.blogspot.com/

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Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
26 Apr 2006
this is an older article, but updates are available at miami imc. the hunger strike ended after 18 high-pressure days, and got lots of support from big-name labor leaders and politicians. we can definitely do good solidarity work from here in boston as the campaign continues.

who's working on this here, and how can we target unicco in solidarity as mayday approaches? what do the student groups involved in the living wage campaigns say about all this? let's make it real hot for the greedheads, and make profiting off the backs of vulnerable immigrants a lot less easy...
Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
26 Apr 2006
may day boston is planning an action for the afternoon of may 1. check back soon for more information.
Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
28 Apr 2006
I don't know if they're linked to the May 1 action referenced above, but the membership of SEIU Local 615 includes thousands of janitors. I'd personally say that anyone wishing to take action on this should check in with them--they're the ones closest to this struggle who should define the strategy!
Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
29 Apr 2006
decentralized. decentralized. anyone concerned with this issue can act on it.
Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
29 Apr 2006
decentralized. decentralized. anyone concerned with this issue can act on it.
Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
29 Apr 2006
I don't deny that anyone can act on this, "steve jobs," if that's what your trying to get at in your duplicate posts. But to whom are you accountable? If you actually think that solidarity is relevant here, then act it! Solidarity is utterly empty if there is no relationship with those you are supposedly acting to support. This is a specific fight which impacts some people very specifically, not a fight against a large issue that directly impacts us all like the war.

If I'm having a fight with my landlord or boss, and you act "in solidarity" without checking in with me or aksing how your actions will impact my larger strategy, then you may actually harm me. And then how are you my ally or acting in any sort of solidarity??
Re: Boston-based UNICCO cleaning company target of Miami hunger strike
29 Apr 2006
Let Them Eat Cake