(Unite Here Local 11)
Oh, look. More cases of workers losing their jobs just coincidentally as they're organizing for better treatment on the job or to join a union. To Xiomara Perez, the Toll Group truck drive fired for taking a bathroom break, add more than two dozen Walmart warehouse workers laid off and a Hyatt housekeeper suspended, both last week.
The California Walmart distribution center that laid off the workers is operated by Schneider Logistics; the workers in question were hired by a staffing agency, Impact Logistics. Schneider claims the workers were "temporarily laid-off while the Walmart distribution center transitions to a new inventory management system. It says the workers could be hired back as soon as next Tuesday." So surely it's just a coincidence that these workers are part of a class action suit against Schneider and two staffing agencies of wage theft and other labor law violations.
Morena Hernandez, a longtime housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood, was also the victim of another amazing coincidence. Hernandez was suspended supposedly for following an improper room cleaning procedure in dealing with this unholy mess:
That day, I noticed the carpet in the room was dirty, so I requested a shampoo – a procedure that requires another employee and extra time. I then went into the bathroom and noticed the guest had been sick because he left quite a mess in the toilet. I sprayed down the toilet, and while the cleaner penetrated, I went on to start cleaning the next room. I marked the room as “unfinished” in the hotel’s electronic tracking system.Suspension means she may be on her way to losing her job. This is doubtless coincidental with her activism, including leafleting outside the hotel on International Women's Day in support of Martha and Lorena Reyes, who were fired from the same hotel for alleged break time violations shortly after they protested the posting of pictures of their faces photoshopped onto bikini-clad bodies. Got that? The Hyatt Andaz wants us to believe that the Reyes sisters were fired for break time violations, not their protest of the pictures, and Morena Hernandez was suspended for improper cleaning procedures (after 15 years at the same hotel), not for her protest of the Reyes sisters being fired.
This is why we need a strong National Labor Relations Board and stronger penalties for retaliatory firings: scratch the surface of any kind of organizing effort by workers and you're likely to find these stories. It's illegal to fire workers for exercising their legal rights, but even if companies knew they'd be found guilty every single time it happened, the weak penalties would mean that many employers would still think the benefits in ridding themselves of leaders and intimidating other workers were worth it.