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The National Labor Relations Board ruled in favor of four housekeepers, who said they were retaliated against and fired for trying to improve working conditions at the Los Alamos Holiday Inn Express.
The housekeepers won reinstatement and back pay this week, according to a press release from Somos Un Pueblo Unido .
The press release said in September 2013, Rosa Sanchez, Malena Sanchez, Ramona Salaiz and Yolanda Salaiz formed a work site committee to collectively complain about a hostile work environment, favoritism by supervisors, and unequal application of disciplinary measures (including arbitrary write-ups).
The press release said the hotel soon began a series of retaliatory actions that included: threatening committee members with termination and lawsuits; reducing hours; intimidating the workers by having a uniformed police officer at a staff meeting; and increasing surveillance by installing cameras in housekeeper areas.
According to the press release, in October 2013, the Holiday Inn Express terminated two committee members, Rosa and Malena Sanchez. In February 2014, Yolanda and Ramona Salaiz were also fired. The committee formally complained to the NLRB alleging that the hotel had violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), a federal law that prohibits employers from threatening and retaliating against workers who are organizing to change the terms and conditions of employment.
Under the settlement agreement negotiated with the NLRB, the hotel agreed to reinstate the workers, pay $11,375 in back wages, and post an official Board notice in the workplace informing employees of their right to organize.
“All we tried to do was organize for better working conditions. We didn’t deserve to be mistreated or fired,” said Ramona Salaiz, a resident of Los Alamos. “We look forward to returning to our jobs soon and to a more respectful work environment.”
Rosa Sanchez, a single parent of two teenage daughters, was out of work for five months because of her termination.
“Even though I had to move in with my mother to make ends meet, it was worth it. Standing up for my rights was the right thing to do and an important lesson for my girls,” she said. “If we hadn’t organized, the supervisors at the hotel would have kept treating workers badly.”
According to the press release, this is the 10th successful NLRB complaint filed by work site committees organized through the United Worker Center of New Mexico, a project of Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
“We hope this serves as a message to other low-wage workers: organizing in the workplace is possible, even without a union. We don’t have to put up with mistreatment.” said Rayos Burciaga, a Somos Board Member and a founder of the United Worker Center.
The NLRB ordered the hotel to put up the following sign:
“We will offer Malena Sanchez, Ramona Salaiz, Rosa Sanchez, and Yolanda Salaiz their jobs back along with all other rights or privileges.
“We will pay Malena Sanchez, Ramona Salaiz, Rosa Sanchez, and Yolanda Salaiz for the wages and other benefits they would have received if their employment had continued.
“We will remove from our files all references to the discharge of Malena Sanchez, Ramona Salaiz, Rosa Sanchez, and Yolanda Salaiz and WE WILL notify them in writing that this has been done and that the discharge will not be used against them in any way.
“We will not in any like or related manner interfere with your rights under Section 7 of the Act.”