Saturday, March 04, 2006

That would be the smell of REVOLUTION in the air....

Or perhaps it's just that the janitors and maids have gone on strike.

CORAL GABLES -- For four years, Zoila Mursuli toiled in the shadows, scrubbing toilets, sweeping floors and emptying trash on the graveyard shift at the University of Miami.

Her job came with no health benefits and paid just $6.70 an hour, which ranks among the lowest wages for university janitors in the nation. Then last week, she was fired after talking to the Orlando Sentinel about her efforts to organize a strike among her fellow UM maintenance workers. Late Tuesday, her efforts paid off: Her night-shift co-workers walked off their jobs in an escalating strike about alleged unfair labor practices.

Okay, so you're thinking "Typical labor dispute on a college campus, big deal." But this gets funnier.

The battle also comes at an awkward time for [University of Miami President and former secretary for Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton Donna] Shalala, who just raised an unprecedented $1 billion for capital, scholarship, faculty and other improvements at UM.

She also was featured in an inopportune article in the New York Times this month. In it, she discusses her 9,000-square-foot presidential residence on the waterfront -- where her dog has the choice of four beds, and where she doesn't make enough use of her 29-foot motorboat.

The interview brought her national scorn, including this "Note to the Haves" from The Washington Post: "When involved in labor disputes, skip the luxury home profile."

Beautiful stuff! These issues look a lot different when you're not spending taxpayer money, don't they Donna?

But even funnier than Shalala and her house is this bit:

Neither did the Shalala announcement cool the rising tensions between the administration and a growing faction of its students. Instead, students were emboldened by Shalala's action.

"It shows we are now a force that has to be reckoned with," said [UM junior Jacob] Coker-Dukowitz, a member of Students Toward a New Democracy, or STAND, a campus organization that has assumed a lead role in supporting the workers.

Those rich kids are just so cute when they get all socialist and revolutionary! "Aw, look at little Coker-Dukowitz. You're a good little revolutionary, aren't you? Yes you are! Yes you are!" All he needs is for someone to pinch his cheek.

[Adapted from an email exchange with my wife.]

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