March 27, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 36°F


Alleged bias spurs protest

An Ithaca resident and former employee of the Hilton Garden Inn led a rally last Friday outside the hotel on Seneca Street in protest of what she termed an “unfair termination.”

The resident, Michelle Lopez, was joined by nearly 40 supporters, including members of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center (TCWC).

With the help of the TCWC, Lopez filed a formal complaint Oct. 24 with the National Labor Relations Board against the Emerald Corporation, which owns the Hilton Garden Inn, in which she charges that hotel management threatened to terminate her employment after she discussed joining a union.

James Bouderau, general manager of the Hilton Garden Inn in Ithaca, said the allegations are unfounded.

“We are happily cooperating with the National Labor Relations Board in regards to the case and are extremely confident that we can provide substantial documentation to discredit Ms. Lopez’s claims against us,” he said in an e-mail Tuesday.

Lopez, a mother of four, said she had discussed her concerns regarding unfair treatment and pay with fellow employees and suggested the possibility of joining a union. When she became vocal about working conditions, Lopez said she was called into the human resources department and had her job threatened.

Pete Meyers, a coordinator for the TCWC, said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states all individuals have the right to form and join trade unions.

“No worker should have to leave their rights outside when they go into work each day,” he said. “This is no less a bedrock principle of our democracy, then it is of international law and human rights.”