Hotel Union Defends Illegal Immigrants

Nathan Newman nathan.newman at
Fri Jan 7 14:30:26 PST 2000

This is a really encouraging case and decision by the EEOC and NLRB, along with showing how some unions are fighting hard on behalf of undocumented workers and recognizing how that builds their unions as well.

-- Nathan Newman

Hotel Agrees to Settlement for Fired Illegal Aliens Source: The Associated Press Published: Jan 7, 2000 - 10:56 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A Holiday Inn Express hotel has agreed to pay $72,000 to nine illegal immigrants from Mexico who were fired as housekeepers in alleged retaliation for leading a successful union organizing drive. The settlement was reached Thursday between Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the National Labor Relations Board.

Jaye Rykunyk, secretary-treasurer and principal officer of Local 17 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, said the agreement was groundbreaking.

"The EEOC has taken the position that undocumented workers are entitled to compensation for discrimination. It's a nationwide precedent for the EEOC," Rykunyk said.

Previously, the EEOC said it had limited authority to help workers who were in the United States illegally.

Despite the settlement, the workers likely will have to leave the country because they are undocumented, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service's district director, Curtis Aljets.

The hotel fired the workers on Oct. 13 while they were in the process of organizing a union. The hotel's manager said he turned them in to the INS because he feared penalties for employing them.

The INS arrested eight of the workers on the same day. All nine workers, who fought deportation, are still in Minnesota, awaiting an INS hearing.

Two days after the arrests, the housekeepers' union filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the NLRB.

The NLRB and the EEOC jointly investigated the hotel. The NLRB found that the hotel was in violation of the National Labor Relations Act by retaliating against its employees.

The EEOC found that the hotel violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by denying the workers lunch and rest breaks, imposing more rigorous monitoring and productivity schedules and denying them raises after a 90-day probationary period.

St. Paul lawyer J. Michael Colloton, who represented Holiday Inn, said the hotel does not acknowledge wrongdoing but settled the lawsuit because it was less expensive than fighting.

The hotel agreed to pay the employees $1,000 each in compensatory damages. The settlement also includes $7,000 in back pay for each worker.

Holiday Inn also signed a two-year contract with the union, providing a starting wage of $7.25 for housekeepers, a raise after 90 days and another raise after one year.

The hotel also has promised not to retaliate or discriminate against other employees and to train its managers and supervisors. It must report to the EEOC for one year.

The workers involved were Rosa Albino, Evertina Albino, Reyna Albino, Norma del Toro, Bulfrano Albino, Bruna Alvarez, Estella Albino, Amado Flores and Francilla Albino.

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