|By Michael Kinsman, The San Diego Union-Tribune|
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Sep. 24, 2004 - The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the Hotel del Coronado to reinstate two employees the board determined were fired for participating in union activities.
The hotel was ordered to hire back Juan Torres, a banquet server, and Joel Martinez, a bar attendant, both of whom had been fired in January. The NLRB said the two men were fired for promoting unionization at the hotel.
The reinstatements were included in a Sept. 13 decision by Administrative Law Judge Lana H. Parke, who gave the hotel until Monday to comply with her order.
In addition, the hotel is required to post a copy of an NLRB statement of worker rights for 60 days, including a public proclamation that Torres and Martinez shall be hired back in their old jobs, or comparable ones, and will be paid for lost wages and benefits since their January terminations.
"It's very difficult to prove that workers were fired for union activities," said Brigette Browning, an organizer with UNITE HERE, the bargaining agent for 900 workers at the hotel. "This is a very important decision for us."
The Hotel del Coronado plans to appeal the NLRB ruling, hotel spokeswoman Lauren Ash Donoho said.
The ruling was the latest round in a long-running, acrimonious labor dispute at the Coronado hotel. The union has called for a boycott of the hotel until a labor agreement can be reached, and last month nine people were arrested in a protest after they refused to leave the lobby.
Torres, a 20-year employee of the hotel, was fired in early January for allegedly failing to report to work one day, poor performance and leaving early one day.
The NLRB found that his firing was motivated by his participation in union picketing and wearing union buttons.
Martinez, a 15-year employee, was terminated in January for allegedly lying about leaving work without permission.
The NLRB found that his firing was motivated by his union activities, such as picketing and soliciting workers to sign a work-related petition.
More than 800 workers were represented by the union when the hotel was purchased last December for $385 million by CNL Hospitality Properties and KSL Recreation Corp, which also manages the hotel.
All of those workers were laid off and most eventually rehired by KSL. Torres and Martinez were among those rehired, but 52 union workers have yet to be rehired, Browning said.
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