Coral Gables, FL—The University of Miami’s 410 cleaners and landscapers voted overwhelmingly to ratify a renewal of their three-year contract with UNICCO/DTZ that raises their hourly wages by 35 cents, maintains employer-paid health care coverage and grants them an additional personal day each year of the contract.
Clara Vargas, a cleaner at Residential Hall and a member of the workers’ bargaining committee, said she is happy with the agreement.
“Now, we can go back to doing our jobs and taking care of our families,” she said.
“DTZ/UNICCO workers maintained their standards and moved forward,” 32BJ SEIU Florida Director Eric Brakken said. “These workers were able to win this by a very strong, unified strike vote last week.”
Brakken said 340 employees of Chartwells Dining Services who make as little as $10,000 a year and who won the right to form a union with 32BJ SEIU in the spring, now need to make progress in their bargaining for a first contract.
“We see this fight as not over until the cafeteria workers win their fight for a contract,” Brakken added. “The DTZ/UNICCO workers will continue to support them in that fight.”
This is the second renewal of the contract that the cleaners and landscapers won in the spring of 2006 after workers embarked on a nine-week strike because of unfair labor practices, substandard pay, lack of health benefits and workplace safety issues. The strike ended with recognition of the workers’ union, which ultimately led to a union contract that increased wages and provided health care and other benefits.
That contract was renewed in 2010, with workers making improvements in pay and benefits.
With more than 145,000 members, including cleaners, landscapers, security officers and laundry workers in South Florida, 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country.
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