Nova to Workers: Drop Dead

Janitors go jobless for months, and students don't give a damn

Yet Ferrero´s interpretation of events seems to diverge from that of many folks, including the service workers´ former employer, Unicco. Nova says its decision to rebid Unicco´s contract came five months before the contractor recognized the union. But Unicco President George Keches says that after he alerted Ferrero that he planned to recognize the union, he received a letter from Ferrero by fax that same day stating that the school would solicit prices from other contractors. ¨Ferrero´s recollection just isn´t accurate,¨ says Doug Bailey, spokesman for Unicco. Ferrero did not respond to numerous direct requests from New Times for comment.

Unicco wasn´t exactly surprised at the rebidding move. The university had made it pretty clear that it prefers to remain union-free, Bailey says. But Unicco´s recognition of the SEIU at the University of Miami, he contends, created a domino effect for unionization among its workers elsewhere. All told, Bailey estimates that Unicco now has more than 100 agreements with the union. Denying a union effort just 25 miles north of the UM campus would be unthinkable, Bailey explains. ¨We felt obligated, and we felt like it was necessary to recognize the union at Nova too.¨

When Nova hired several contractors to replace Unicco, critics called it a divide-and-conquer tactic. Labor experts call it union-busting. Cleaning ladies like Rosario López and Wanda Rodríguez now realize it´s called unemployment.

Judging by a humanitarian award bestowed on Ray Ferrero Jr. by the National Conference for Community and Justice´s local chapter in March, South Florida might just be A-OK with that. Then again, Ferrero sits on the conference´s board.

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