|By Eva Pilgrim, WXIN-TV,
IndianapolisMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
May 14, 2012--Fighting for rights of hotel workers, Indianapolis city leaders took a big step toward making sure all Hoosier hotel employees are compensated fairly.
A packed house filled the Council Chambers Monday night, most there for the first reading of a proposal that's goal is to help hotel employees who want to move from a temporary work agency to a permanent position.
Martha Hernandez worked at a Hyatt hotel and the JW Marriott with a temporary work agency, Hospitality Staffing Solutions. She said she wasn't given any benefits like holidays, days off or insurance and decided she would like to get a job through a hotel, instead of continuing to work as a temporary worker.
"When I went to find a better job at a hotel, I found I was not allowed to be hired."
Hernandez is now part of a lawsuit against several major downtown hotels and the work agency claiming inadequate pay and mistreatment due to an alleged agreement between the hotels and the work agency.
Hernandez said she had to work to support her family. As a single mom she said she had no choice but to continue working for HSS.
"I felt incredibly trapped without many opportunities to get a job."
Brian Mahern, a City-County councilor, is one of the sponsors of an amendment proposing an end the contracts between hotels and work agencies.
"When allowed to exploit, sometimes people will."
Hotel workers and their supporters stood on their feet, clapping Monday night at the first reading of the Freed to Work proposal. Mahern said with the amount of significance the city places on the hospitality industry for the future growth, it's important to make sure workers are treated fairly.
"If we tout something as an economic success story and workers aren't able to earn fair wages then that's not a success. It's a failure."
Monday was the first reading for this proposal. It will go before a committee for consideration June 12.
(c)2012 WXIN-TV (Indianapolis)
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