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.

Rosario López and sons in the family kitchen.
C. STILES
Rosario López and sons in the family kitchen.
Displaced Nova workers protest outside the school with the SEIU.
Amy Guthrie
Displaced Nova workers protest outside the school with the SEIU.

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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