Recently, Betty Asbury, a single mother and cashier at the University of Miami, was fired because a man used the restroom. It took almost 4,000 petition supporters on change.org, rallies and media pressure to get her hired back.
There are over 300 food service workers at the University of Miami who come to work every day with the same fear: regardless of how long they have served our community, independent of how great their work evaluations have been, they can be fired any day and for no reason.
To change this, an overwhelming majority of Betty’s co-workers are trying to form a union. A union would allow them to negotiate a fair contract with their employer that guarantees job security, grievance procedures and adequate benefits.
But their employer, Chartwells, is already fighting back: many workers have been reporting intimidation by Chartwells managers and are afraid to lose their jobs if they keep speaking up for their right to join a union.
We ask the president of our school, Donna Shalala, to break her silence and to publicly guarantee that the worker's right to form a union without fear of retaliation will be protected on our campus.
We furthermore ask that president Shalala tells Chartwells to recognize a union after the majority of workers sign union authorization forms. In this process, sometimes called card check, the cards that workers have signed are counted and verified by the National Labor Relations Board. If a majority of workers wants a union, the company has to negotiate a contract with workers.
If Chartwells insists on a “secret ballot election” instead, the company can - as it happens in most cases - intimidate workers and fire union supporters in the mandatory period of 30 days before the election. We are afraid that unless Chartwells allows for card check, this will happen as well on our campus.
It is in the power of our president Shalala to ask Chartwells to protect workers rights and to recognize the cards that the workers have signed in support of a union. We ask president Shalala to use that power to make sure everybody in our campus - students, faculty and workers - can exercise their rights without fear and intimidation.