February 18, 2010
Contact: Amarjeet Chhabra, UNITE HERE Local 878
907-272-6036 (wk) or 416-856-9587 (cell)
Sheraton Workers Fired!
Four rank and file leaders were terminated Wednesday for participating in union activity
What: Fired workers press conference
When: Friday, February 19th at 12:15pm
Where: Outside the National Labor Relations Board office (4th & F St)
Speakers: Gina Tubman (Server), Lucy Dudek (Server), Troy Prichacharn (Bellmen), Vince Belltrami (Head of the Alaska AFL-CIO)
Attendees: Sheraton and Hilton workers; other members of UNITE HERE Local 878; and members from the local Anchorage community and labor unions.
Why: This past Wednesday, February 17th, four Sheraton Anchorage, rank and file union leaders were brought into the General Manager’s office and were fired. Management cited a union action the workers participated in two weeks prior as the reason for their terminations.
On February 2nd, these workers passed out flyers to customers that asked people not to enter the hotel because it is under boycott. This is because in mid-November, 84% of the membership at the Sheraton Anchorage voted to place their hotel under boycott in order to ramp up their campaign for a fair contract. The four leaders were only outside for a short while before management came out, told them to leave, took their pictures, surrounded them with managers, threatened to call the police, and told them that if they didn’t “go, go now!” that security would remove them. The workers held their ground for a little over 40 minutes, continuously stating that they had the right to be there and showed management two National Labor Relations Board cases that support their position (see below). The following day, the four were suspended until further notice.
The Union believes management is out of control and is knowingly breaking federal law in order to see if they can scare the rest of the Sheraton workers into accepting an inferior contract. Most likely the hotel weighed the cost and benefit of breaking the law. While the hotel may have to pay for their alleged illegal action, they will have, up until that point, shown the rest of the membership that even if someone engages in legal, union activity, management is still going to retaliate.
The majority of the Sheraton workers, however, are having the opposite reaction. Those that were fired are well loved, so those working inside the hotel are more galvanized than ever to fight for their co-workers and a fair contract. Today, an overwhelming majority of them proved this when they wore union buttons in support of their co-workers.
The Sheraton workers will not be swayed. Job security, affordable family healthcare, and safe workloads are on the line. These issues are too important not to fight to keep them. We are in a critical struggle to keep good standards for hotel workers in Anchorage and Alaska at large, and these fired workers efforts are a big part in making this happen. Tomorrow, the fired workers (who have over 40 years of service combined) will congregate with community and labor supporters outside the NLRB office where there is a current unfair labor practice charge pending on their terminations.
Employees have the right to be in non-work areas of their workplace to communicate with the employer’s customers about a labor dispute, using leaflets or picketing. Scott Hudgens, 230 NLRB 414 (1977).
Non-work areas include the doors leading into the employer’s business. Santa Fe Hotel & Casino, 331 NLRB 723 (2000).