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Janitor Alleges Dismissal Was for Union Organizing

Labor: His employer provided backstage custodians at Disneyland, California Adventure.


In the wake of recent union victories for office janitors, a custodian has filed a complaint with federal labor officials alleging he was fired because he tried to organize nonunion workers at his company's work site in Anaheim.

Guadalupe Lopez, 29, of East Los Angeles said in his National Labor Relations Board complaint that he was fired two weeks ago after working for nearly two years at Empire Maintenance Co. The Alhambra company has the contract for backstage janitorial work at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure.

Lopez, who worked at employee-only areas in both Anaheim parks, earned $6.25 an hour. Janitors who are seen by the public are park employees and union members who earn $9 to $14 an hour.

Lopez contends he was frequently asked to work long hours--as many as 21 hours a day--but often was not paid for the overtime. In addition, he said, he was required to clean toilets without gloves or proper equipment.

Motivated by the recent unionization of office janitors, Lopez contacted the Employees Service Union Local 1877.

The federal complaint, filed by the union on behalf of Lopez, claims that on at least one occasion, Lopez's job was threatened because he was organizing employees, said James Small, a labor relations board spokesman.

Lopez said he was fired for sexual harassment and destroying company property; he disputes those charges and said he was not given further explanation. Empire attorney Leslie Lewis confirmed that Lopez correctly stated the reasons for termination.

Lewis said the company must file a response to the board "promptly." The board could then schedule a hearing or dismiss the charge, Small said.

The National Labor Relations Act protects the rights of workers to organize without intimidation, said Blanca Gallegos, a union spokeswoman.

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