MIAMI (CBSMiami/The Miami Herald) – More than 400 custodians at the University of Miami are prepared to go on strike.

The strike would begin September 1, if custodians don’t get favorable contract terms by midnight August 31, according to CBS4 news partner, The Miami Herald.

Many of the workers are represented by a local chapter of the Service Employees International Union.

Negotiations have been taking place for the past several weeks.

A spokesman for the union said the workers are demanding higher wages and other changes.

They approved the potential strike at a gathering Saturday at St. Bede Episcopal Chapel in Coral Gables.

Following that vote, custodial workers could be seen marching along U.S. 1 near the school’s entrance.

“A lot of what we’re fighting for here is about more than raises,” said Eric Brakken, director of 32BJ SEIU Florida told the paper. “Today’s vote is about dignity and standing up for our families and communities. What the janitors are being offered now – a 10-cent wage increase a week – is not going to move us forward.”

Janitors at the university are employed by DTZ Inc., previously Unicco and UGL Limited, the contractor hired by the school to clean buildings and provide lawn maintenance according to the paper.

A strike by custodial workers would be the second one in the past decade.

The last time was in 2006 when janitors fought to unionize.

Before the 2006 strike, University of Miami janitors earned a minimum of $6.40 an hour, which Unicco raised to at least $8.55 an hour, plus health insurance. That initial contract has been renewed once; the current negotiations are for the contract’s second renewal.

In addition to the custodial workers, 285 cafeteria workers are in the process of negotiating a contract according to the paper.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)


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