ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A longtime employee at a major Anchorage hotel claims he was unjustly fired last week for showing photos of mold in several hotel rooms to his union. The hotel’s general manager however, says the employee was terminated due to “serious and demonstrable misconduct.”
Bill Rosario was fired from his job as an engineer at the Hilton in downtown Anchorage last Monday, a position he’s held for 10 years. Rosario, along with various labor representatives, gathered outside the Hilton on Tuesday afternoon to voice their opposition to the hotel’s decision.
“Giving those pictures to his union was and is protected by federal law, the National Labor Relations Act,” said Vince Beltrami, president of AFL-CIO Alaska. “Yet the Hilton terminated him in violation of the requirement of that law.”
Rosario’s labor union, UNITE-HERE! Local 878, said Rosario’s firing was especially suspicious because it came just one day before the Anchorage Assembly passed new protections for whistleblowers reporting mold in public buildings like hotels. That ordinance was introduced by Assembly member Eric Croft (West Anchorage) who was also outside the Hilton Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m very worried when I hear that somebody giving a complaint of a potential health risk and they get fired for it,” Croft said. “We don’t want that. We want those people to make that complaint to protect our health and to protect our visitor industry.”
But the Hilton’s general manager Steve Rader asserted that Rosario was not fired for being a whistleblower.
“Because Mr. Rosario’s termination is subject to an active judicial process we are not at liberty to discuss the details surrounding his termination,” Rader wrote in a prepared statement.
“We can say, however, that Mr. Rosario was not fired due to any sort of whistle blowing activity. He was, in fact terminated due to serious and demonstrable misconduct that the Hotel is confident it can establish in an appropriate forum.”
Meanwhile, the union has already initiated a legal proceeding with the National Labor Relations Board, which will determine whether or not Rosario was fired illegally. An exact timeline for the board’s investigation however, could not immediately be provided.
“Our position is that [Mr. Rosario] should get back as soon as possible and definitely with back-pay which he’s losing right now,” said Daniel Esparza, vice president of UNITE-HERE! Local 878.