by Shane Bond
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that multiple restaurants at Oakland International Airport violated federal labor laws, including firing employees for trying to organize a union, interrogating workers about union activities, and cutting the hours of union employees.
The restaurants in question included the same ones — Subway and Jamba Juice — that investigators for the Port of Oakland said had violated the port’s living wage ordinance. The NLRB also found that the airport Burger King franchise, owned by Alimson Restaurants, unlawfully interrogated employees and denied a promotion to an employee because of that person’s union affiliation.
In spring 2012, the airport Subway fired Hakima Arhab after she filed a living wage complaint with the port against Subway franchise owners, NNF Grewal LLC, for refusing to pay her paid time off. Other employees who filed complaints with the port had their hours drastically cut in retaliation. CMC Services, which owns the Jamba Juice, fired Diamond Ford as well after she filed a living wage complaint. The port ordered the businesses to reinstate the employees be reinstated and reimburse them for paid time off or face a $26,000 fine. Neither of the businesses has complied with the port’s ruling yet.
“I was fired because I stood up for my rights,” Arhab said in a statement released by Unite Here, the union defending the employees. “The Port of Oakland investigated and found that I was telling the truth. Now the Labor Board has also issued a complaint against Subway for retaliating against me. But it’s been almost a year, and I’m still waiting to get my job back.”
Neither CMC Services nor Alimson Restaurants could be reached for comment but Michael Foster, attorney for the Grewals, brushed off the NLRB’s decision. “Same claims, different forum,” said Foster. “Bottom line: Unite Here has not been able to organize a single small employer at the port in the same two years since they started encouraging employees to file these claims.”
Foster plans to appeal the Grewals’ case to Alameda County Superior Court.