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Alana Roberts

Split Ruling Issued in Aladdin Labor Case

4 June 2004

LAS VEGAS -- A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has ordered the Aladdin hotel-casino to pay one worker back pay and full benefits after finding he had been fired because of his support of Culinary Union Local 226.

The judge also upheld the termination of another worker who supported the union.

In a decision released last week, Administrative Law Judge Gregory Z. Meyerson ruled that the terminations of Pablo Blanco and Socrates Oberes, bussers at the Spice Market Buffet, were in violation of federal labor law. The two had already been reinstated at the time of the decision, but Blanco hadn't received full back pay or benefits.

The union alleged both were discharged because of their union support.

However, Meyerson upheld the company's termination of Luis Velasquez, a server at the Spice Market Buffet, saying that the company would have disciplined and terminated him regardless of any union issues based on the number of customer complaints he received.

Meyerson also ruled that the casino wrongfully disciplined union supporters Joe Trevino and Norma Quinones. He ordered the casino to post a notice specifying that it won't break federal labor laws and that Blanco and Oberes will be reinstated to their jobs, while stating that the company will rescind disciplinary warnings given to Trevino and Quinones.

Meyerson upheld numerous other charges against the company including that it interrogated, disciplined, suspended and threatened workers who supported the union's organizing efforts. He also upheld charges that the company engaged in the surveillance of its employees.

Mark Ricciardi, an attorney for the Aladdin, said Meyerson dismissed 40 percent of the charges filed by the union.

Aladdin attorneys argued that mangers were surprised when workers began wearing pro-union buttons in May 2003, and that any inadvertent comment by a supervisor about an employee's button was harmless and non-coercive.

" 'Surprise' is simply not a defense to an employer's interference with employees'... rights," Meyerson said in his decision.

Meyerson did not rule on whether workers at the casino must organize through the union-preferred "card check" procedure or the company-preferred NLRB-run election, a major dispute between the union and the casino. He did say both sides have a right to their preferred method of determining the level of interest in the Culinary Union's leadership among workers.