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Morena Hernandez
And then she was suspended. Coincidentally.
(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 driver 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.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Retail and Workplace Pragmatists - Members and Editors, Retail And Workplace Pragmatists - General, and In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I know this all too well. (6+ / 0-)

    I greatly admire the people publicly pushing for unions at their workplaces. They are braver than myself. I don't dare go unemployed right now.

    People not inside such workplace get impatient with me for having not yet organized a union,  but they really don't understand how difficult it could be. "There's no excuse", etc.

    I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

    by Lightbulb on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 12:46:19 PM PDT

    •  One of the big things we're seeing, (6+ / 0-)

      especially in California it seems, is that rather than try to unionize, workers and ally groups including unions are using labor law, bringing wage theft complaints and the like. That's the deal with the warehouse organizing -- as far as I know, they're not talking union, at least not at this point. They're literally just trying to get the companies to follow the law on things like minimum wage and overtime and safety.

      •  Yes, exactly so. (5+ / 0-)

        That's what we're doing. Asking for safe equipment, better equipment, even pencils. Our employer does follow minimum wage laws so far as we can tell, so that's not a worry for my particular facility. Scheduling is a big issue though. Overtime is another big issue.

        We have had some success. Not by mentioning laws which could get management suspicious of us, but by reading up on our corporate policies. It makes us sound more "enthusiastic" about the company I think.

        Of course, this only works in facilities that have written company policies. Lots of places don't.

        I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

        by Lightbulb on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 03:01:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm very fortunate in that both of the unions that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lightbulb, belinda ridgewood

          I was in, were organized before I got there.  Organizing a union is not easy, & doesn't have to be done overnite. Can start just by talking to a couple of trusted co-workers. And bide your time.

          Also you might be surprised someday to find that your writing here at DK has inspired others to organize. We can all contribute to worker solidarity in many different ways.


          Fighting for our freedom while walking on eggshells is hard to do. -JayRaye

          by JayRaye on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 04:37:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Rec'd and Tipped. n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

        by rebel ga on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 07:28:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped. recc'd, listed. I hope that we (workers) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, JayRaye, 207wickedgood

    someday realize that nobody is on our side. Neither political party gives two shits about us and the national legislators that really work for us can be counted in toto without running out of fingers.

    Even under the last pillar of the Democratic party, the Clinton administration, the NLRB (headed by Robert Reich) refused to bring any but the most outrageous cases before the courts. Needless to say the Republican'ts are far worse. Not surprisingly, the Obama administration has been even more obstructionist than Clinton's.

    We are in this alone. We have no friends in power. It is entirely up to us.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Mon Mar 26, 2012 at 01:36:12 PM PDT

  •  It happened to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't think I ever even mentioned "union" at work but I'm fairly vocal online about my support for union rights.
    I was fired under the false accusation that I had stole money.

    I'm many things but a thief I am not.

  •  Reyes sisters did not work @ Andaz (0+ / 0-)

    They were disciplined at another hotel in the Hyatt chain, but it was located Santa Clara, CA. Just shows that these coincidental firings/suspensions aren't just isolated to a single hotel or work places. It's standard practice for these companies to silence their workers by sowing fear.

    Reyes Sisters' Story

    A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world. Oscar Wilde

    by AimlessDriver on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 08:36:08 AM PDT

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