When a hotel housekeeping service announced a $2-per-hour wage cut, employees protested in letters to managers, written with the help of a community organization. Workers who led the effort and signed the letters were later fired. After the NLRB issued complaint, both employees received full backpay and offers of reinstatement.
“This experience has taught me that I do have rights and no one can abuse them,” said Maria J., one of the two housekeepers who filed charges after having been fired. In a conversation with an NLRB field agent, Maria said she and co-workers who cleaned rooms at luxury hotels and spas felt the sudden pay cut was an “injustice” and sought help from a local community group, Somos un Pueblo Unido.
With the group’s help, the workers composed letters to senior management at the staffing company, asking them to reconsider cutting the current $9.50 per hour wage by $2. A short time later, Maria, whose signature was prominent on the letter, was transferred to another hotel and then fired. Her colleague and co-signer, Juan Lopez, was interrogated and then fired as well.
Maria and Juan filed charges with the NLRB regional office, and an investigation found reasonable cause to believe their firings were unlawful. The Regional Director, on behalf of the General Counsel, issued a complaint calling for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Prior to a trial, however, the employer settled the case. Both workers received full backpay and offers of reinstatement, which they declined.
Maria, who had already moved on to another job, said the offer gave her a sense of satisfaction. “I had faith that we would win and that we would show the company they could not walk all over us,” she said. She’s kept in touch with her former coworkers, and noted with disappointment that, despite her efforts, the pay was never restored to its previous level. “But I know that the employees are able to speak openly about their wages,” she said.