Van Nuys UAW Members Back Cause of Fired Maids

Times Staff Writer

Members of the Van Nuys local of the United Auto Workers union Tuesday joined the picket line of a group of maids fired from the Holiday Inn in Glendale. Officials of the UAW local said they also will try to raise money to help the maids until they get their jobs back.

The 20 maids lost their jobs six weeks ago when they refused to work under the terms of a contract with Holiday Inn that they said reduced their salary by 50 cents an hour, increased their workload and eliminated their health benefits.

The maids, mostly Latinas who do not speak English, complained that the contract was a "sweetheart" arrangement worked out between the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Union Local 531, which represents them, and Jim Perry, owner of the Glendale Holiday Inn. Officials of Local 531 have denied the allegation.

Firings Called an 'Attack'

UAW Local 645 joined the picket line "because we feel this is an attack against a minority group," UAW organizer Ruben Garcia said. About 15 UAW members walked the picket line Tuesday, carrying placards and speaking through bullhorns.

"We'll stay here until Holiday Inn takes them back, and we're calling for a boycott of the hotel," Garcia said. He said the UAW local voted unanimously last week to support the maids.

"We are also trying to raise money to help them out until they return to work," he said.

Perry refused to comment Tuesday on the development.

Grievance Filed

John Convery, president of the Hotel Employees local, has filed a grievance against Perry, alleging that the hotel owner raised wages to $3.90 an hour while the contract was being negotiated in an attempt to undercut the union. However, when agreement on a new contract was reached--without the approval of the maids--the pact called for a 50-cents-an-hour reduction, down to $3.40.

Convery denied the contract was part of a "sweetheart" deal and said that he and the UAW local will work together in an attempt to get the maids' jobs back.

"With the UAW coming in, we should be able to apply a little more pressure," Convery said. "The main thing is to get them back to work. The other matters will follow."

The maids said that, besides the pay cut, the new contract calls for them to clean 18 rather than 16 rooms a day. The contract also provides for vacations once every three years instead of annually, they said.

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