SEIU-supported fast leaves four ill

April 18, 2006 at 2:31 PM

MIAMI, April 18 (UPI) -- A hunger strike by janitors at the University of Miami over alleged civil rights abuses by their employer has caused four to be sent to a hospital.

Pablo Rodriguez, 31, was taken Tuesday to Doctors Hospital after his blood pressure dropped sharply, and another hunger striker suffered a mild stroke as a result of the 13-day fast.

Supported by the Service Employees International Union, the action is part of a 7-week effort to pressure Donna Shalala, the university's president, to order Unicco, which hires the school's janitors, to allow non-secret voting on forming a union local.

Specifically, the SEIU wants to unionize the janitors by "card check," which would reveal how each janitor voted. Unicco, with Shalala's support, has been insisting on a National Labor Relations Board election -- something the SEIU and its leader, Andy Stern, strongly oppose.

"SEIU's rhetoric is akin to that of a hostage taker: Meet my demands or someone might get hurt," Richard Berman, executive director of the Center for Union Facts, said. "While Stern and SEIU attack the university, it is their anti-democratic agenda that is putting employees' lives at risk."

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