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Hotel housekeepers say they were fired after complaints about unfair conditions [Updated]

April 27, 2011 | 11:32 am

Five former housekeepers at the Hilton Long Beach have said they were fired after they complained to human resources about working conditions.

Maria Medina, 40, said she and two other housekeepers met with human resources managers earlier this month to complain about erratic scheduling and other working conditions. The three and two others, all of whom were told they worked for a subcontractor, were fired two days later, Medina said.

The group is demanding to be reinstated into full-time, permanent positions at the hotel. Unite Here Local 11, which has been working to organize housekeepers at the hotel for two years, have a Wednesday afternoon news conference scheduled.

Since being fired, the employees said they have spoken with state investigators about what they called unfair conditions of employment.

Medina said she was interviewed and hired at the hotel and only later learned she would be paid by a subcontractor. Over the four years she worked at the hotel, her checks never showed tax deductions and she was never offered health benefits, paid time off or other benefits enjoyed by housekeepers who worked directly for the hotel, she said.

The other employees, all of whom had worked at the hotel for at least two years, had similar stories, said Leigh Shelton, spokeswoman for Unite Here.

"There needs to be some kind of reform," Medina said. "Housekeeping work is taxing. It slowly weighs on your body ... If there are going to be [subcontracting] agencies they should at least be fair. They should at least be watched closely by the government."

A spokesperson for the hotel could not be immediately reached for comment.

[Updated, 5:32 p.m.: Late Wednesday afternoon, Ken Melinie, director of human resources for the Hilton Long Beach, said the five housekeepers "are employed by an outside agency. We’ve not terminated any people here. We did end a contract with an agency we were working with.”

Meline, who described the workers as “outstanding, hardworking individuals,” said he did meet with them to hear their complaints about schedules as a courtesy, even though they did not work directly for the hotel. He told them they would be welcome to apply directly for open positions after the agency’s contract was terminated.

“I’m kind of disappointed that none of them applied. But that offer certainly still stands,” he said.

Meline said the hotel ensures that all workers, including those who work for contracted agencies, are paid properly -- including “all the appropriate taxes and any kind of overtime.]


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-- Paloma Esquivel