Legal Complaint Hearing still Pending at the OLRBIngrid Amaya is a working mother with three children. She was very happy she and her co-workers formed a Union with SEIU in May because she knew it would mean better working conditions and a raise in pay for the Unicco cleaners at 25 Main St. West in Hamilton.
Unfortunately it’s been a bumpy ride. Her employer, Unicco Facility Services, threatened and punished employees for their efforts, according to a legal complaint filed with the Ontario Labour Relations Board. Ingrid was intimidated and then illegally terminated for openly supporting the union, according to the complaints. The company maintained that she was not terminated but that she had quit and until recently, refused to give Ingrid her job back.
An Unfair Labour Practice complaint was filed on Ingrid’s behalf after the incidents in May. The OLRB hearings are still pending.
After weeks of pressure by SEIU, Ingrid received a letter from the company saying she could return to work unconditionally and with backpay. “I feel great,” said Ingrid. “It’s positive for me and the others.”
Ingrid says some of the ladies she works with were in disbelief that she was able to get her job back. “They can see the help that we can get now that we are unionized,” said a radiant Ingrid.
But her reinstatement does not mean she’s giving up on the Unfair Labour Practice complaints at the Labour Board.
“This demonstrates I was telling the truth all along,” says Ingrid. “I have three kids to support – I had no reason to quit.”
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she continued. “To be treated the way I was. I want there to be a record of what they did to me so that others won’t have to be afraid.”
Chronology of Events According to Complaints
Workers at 25 Main St. West decided to form a union to improve their working conditions.
Tuesday May 8, 2012
Ingrid requests Friday May 18th off so she could attend a lifelong friend’s wedding. She’s turned down and told she’ll be suspended for three days if she fails to come to work.
After an organizing drive, workers at the building file an application for certification to form a Union with SEIU. They post a Union leaflet with their photos at work.
Saturday May 12, 2012
The supervisor calls one of Ingrid’s co-workers at home, interrogates and threatens her.
Monday May 14, 2012
Ingrid’s supervisor interrogates her about her role in forming a union and threatens her.
Wednesday May 16, 2012
Thursday May 17, 2012
The supervisor notifies all the employees EXCEPT Ingrid that the building will be closed on Friday May 18th because of transformer work needs to be done.
Friday May 18, 2012
Workers, including Ingrid arrive to vote to form a Union. Despite the building closure, Ingrid comes prepared to work, but her supervisor is nowhere to be found.
Monday May 21, 2012
Tuesday May 22, 2012
A new employee is hired to replace Ingrid.
Wednesday May 23, 2012
Ingrid reaches her supervisor by the phone to ask what the status of her employment is. The supervisor told her she did not have a job.
Ingrid is without work from May 18, through all of June, until July 6.
Thursday July 5, 2012
Ingrid receives a hand-delivered reinstatement letter in the evening.
Friday July 6, 2012
Ingrid returns to work.