Friday, February 24, 2006

Shalala Says Something About the Janitors

Following up on this story, it looks like the University of Miami is seeing that they have a little mess on their hands with the janitors’ pay issue. From the Miami Herald:

Just days before its janitors vote whether to strike, the University of Miami said it would conduct a thorough review of compensation and benefits for all contract employees working on its campuses.

The university had previously maintained that it was a neutral party in the fight between Unicco Service Co., the Boston-based contractor it uses for the school’s janitorial staff, and the Service Employees’ International Union, the labor group that has been trying to organize the workers.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, President Donna Shalala said the university could no longer remain “quiet or idle while our integrity is called into question by the people we hold dearest.”

“The university is fully aware of its role in continuing to provide a good work environment not only for its own employees but also for employees of outside contractors working on its campuses,” she said. A UM spokeswoman declined further comment on the issue, saying Shalala’s statement should stand on its own.

In its organizing campaign that began months ago, the SEIU has said the workers face unsafe working conditions, are poorly paid and have no health benefits. The university has said the workers are paid on average $7.43 an hour.

SEIU spokeswoman Renee Asher said Shalala’s statement was welcomed, but that the vote to authorize the strike was still planned for Sunday.

Now that they have their attention…