FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
November 21, 2016
Santa Fe Hotel Workers File Multiple Wage Theft Complaints With City Attorney; Workers Also Filed Retaliation Complaints with National Labor Relations Board
SANTA FE, NM--Today, three hotel workers will file wage theft complaints with the City of Santa Fe alleging that their employer violated the city's "living wage" ordinance by requiring them to work off the clock, manipulating their time sheets, and paying them less than $10.91. The three housekeepers work at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel.
"Hotel management would make us clean 23 rooms in a 7 hour period, insult us if we couldn't finish the work in time, and then not pay us for all of our hours," said Elizabeth Ortega, mother of three children and a member of the Courtyard Marriott Hotel Worker's Committee. "We finally had enough, so we decided to speak up. Our children depend on every single dollar that we earn. Stealing wages from our families is shameful."
In total, the complaints add up to about $3,000 in unpaid wages.The workers also allege retaliation by the hotel when they complained to the owners.
"When we complained to management about the stolen wages and excessive workload, we immediately saw a severe reduction in hours." said Laura Valle, mother of three young boys. "Our paycheck tanked overnight, and that is difficult for our families We work hard and help Santa Fe's hotel industry. At a time with so much economic uncertainty, we need the city to protect low-wage workers."
Rayos Burciaga, an organizer with the United Worker Center of New Mexico, a project of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, said on Monday: "Forcing employees to work off the clock, manipulating their time sheets, or paying them in cash are the most common ways unscrupulous employers steal wages. We need the City to conduct thorough investigations into these cases so that these violations don't go unchecked."
"As mothers whose children depend on us, we came together, organized a worker's committee, and sent a letter to our employer about what was happening," said Ortega. "Our supervisor stopped manipulating our time sheets, but after we asked to be paid for the wages that were stolen our hours were cut right before the start of the holiday season. We were also told by one of the owners that if we quit, he would call other hotel managers and tell them not to hire us. We are filing these complaints today and expect the City to take action."
Last week, the three workers also filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board seeking remedies for the retaliation.
For interviews with members of the committee, please contact Neza Leal at (505) 307-5034.