Every once in a while (actually more often than that) we get an appeal from workers that makes you sit up and really take notice.

The hunger strike now taking place at the University of Miami, in the United States, is one of those times.

It’s all over the front page of LabourStart and has been for the last two weeks. But it was the videos (now showing on http://www.labourstart.tv) that really did it for me.

Janitors, housekeepers and groundkeepers at the university have been demanding what is a simple, basic human right — the right to join a union. Their employer is threatening them and intimidating them, and the university is refusing to lift a hand to support them in their struggle.

They are demanding that former Clinton administration official Donna Shalala, who is president of the university, intervene in the dispute and tell the company (called UNICCO) to recognize these workers’ right to form a union. Shalala is stubbornly refusing.

They have gone on a liquids-only hunger strike — both the workers and a half dozen university students. Civil rights leaders, politicians and labor leaders have rallied to their cause. The workers are laying their very lives on the line for dignity at work. Already, several have been hospitalized.

They are asking us to do two very simple things:

1. Go right now to this page — www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidarityforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=87 — and send off your message to Donna Shalala.

2. Forward this information to everyone you know, especially students and others at universities. Publish it on your blogs and web sites. Print it out and hang it on bulletin boards. Reproduce it in your newsletters.

Help us mobilize thousands, and then tens of thousands, to overwhelm Donna Shalala with emails of protest in the next few hours and days.

These workers must not feel that they are alone. They have the support of the entire international labour movement behind them. Let us show them that today, right now.

Solidarity forever!

Thank you.