April 12, 2006

To the University Community:

Well, it is not over until it is over. Today and Tuesday, groups of protestors (brought to campus by the union) who do not work or study on the Coral Gables campus, noisily demonstrated and pushed themselves through the doors at the Ashe Building in an attempt to intimidate the University into taking sides on the union debate.

It was the student organization S.T.A.N.D. that delivered the message that these outsiders were not welcome on campus today.

These outside protestors and the SEIU want union recognition without a single ballot cast by any UNICCO workers who would be affected. The SEIU called a strike but 75 percent of the UNICCO employees are at work. So they have turned on the University in an attempt to bully us into forcing UNICCO into recognizing the union without an election.

A few students and UNICCO workers are staging a hunger strike. We are devastated by the thought that anyone in our community would risk their own health or the health of others. We do not believe the current debate between SEIU and UNICCO over a card check vs. a secret ballot election is worth jeopardizing the health of one student or one UNICCO worker.

It is clear that today and Tuesday with the arrival on campus of outside protestors that the responsible strike supporters in our community are beginning to lose control of the situation.

Paying UNICCO workers to stay off the job is an acceptable practice during a unionization effort. What is off limits, unacceptable, and potentially dangerous is bringing in third-party protestors to disrupt the educational mission of the University and encouraging them to trespass on private property.

The union and UNICCO are exchanging proposals — they have talked before and worked out their differences in other places at other times . . . let their direct discussions continue . . .

. . . and say a prayer for cool heads and warm hearts during the holiday break.

I will keep you informed — from my perch on the rock, next to the hard place.

Donna E. Shalala

Office of the President
P.O. Box 248006 Coral Gables, Florida 33124-4600
305-284-5155 Fax 305-284-3768