(Miami, FL) The following comments can be attributed to Helene O’Brien, Florida Director for 32BJ SEIU, the union that represents County contracted security officers and other property service workers:
“Today’s decision by the Miami Dade County’s Policy Committee to reject paid sick days for contracted workers, including essential security officers and janitors, shows a blatant disregard for public health—especially during the coronavirus pandemic.
“All Miami Dade residents should be particularly outraged by Commissioner Bovo’s remarks equating giving paid sick days to the officers that protect his constituents and the janitors that sanitize public buildings, as ‘communism’. Bovo also said he found it disrespectful that workers were ‘using the pandemic’ in explaining why paid sick days are needed, a comment that shows an utter lack of understanding of the dangers frontline workers are facing.
“‘I come from Cuba,’” says Hermes Perez, a security officer and member of 32BJ SEIU. “‘Are you telling me that asking for my human rights is communist? We just want to be able to take a day off when we’re sick, without worrying that we won’t be able to provide for our families.’”
“County contracted janitors clean and sanitize the Metrorail station and other public facilities. Contracted security officers that guard the Miami International Airport and the Metrorail save lives, administer CPR, and diffuse violent situations.
“These hardworking men and women are already struggling with cut hours due to the pandemic. Without paid sick leave, many workers might continue to come in to work sick because they can’t afford to take a day off. Refusing to pass paid sick leave legislation during the COVID-19 crisis is a refusal to take action in preventing the spread of this deadly disease.
“The County’s own financial assessment said the cost would be “negligible” and even admitted that there would be cost savings due increased productivity and improved public health. As Commissioner Levine Cava said in her remarks, today’s decision was “’penny wise, pound foolish’”.
“The Commissioners who killed paid sick leave legislation turned their backs on workers and their families, including victims of domestic violence who need paid days off to escape an abusive partner. They turned their backs on the millions of residents, as well as visitors, who pass through county facilities every year. We hope all South Floridians were paying attention.”
With more than 175,000 members in 11 states and Washington, D.C., 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.