Terminal Worker Terminated After Going to Mother's Funeral in Mexico

On May 19, Patricia Vidrio received bad news: her mother, Catalina Salinas, had died. Salinas had been a janitor in the Los Angeles Greyhound terminal for about five years when she was diagnosed with bone cancer and decided to spend her last days in her hometown in the hills of Mexico’s Jalisco state.


Vidrio, who has worked in the L.A. terminal’s cafeteria since 1994, began to make plans to attend her mother’s funeral. Vidrio informed her manager, Cheryl Wills, and booked her travel arrangements. Her husband, Mike, a Greyhound mechanic, would stay behind and watch their kids.


Vidrio was given three days of paid bereavement leave and wasn’t scheduled to work the following two days. She called from Mexico to tell Wills that she would return right after the 9-day rosary period but was unable to get through, so she called another crew leader and asked her to pass on the information.


She returned on June 1 to find that Wills had terminated her four days earlier, even though the manager noted in Vidrio’s dismissal notice that the crew leader had forwarded her message. Wills also noted that she turned down Mike Vidrio’s request that his wife be allowed to use her vacation time to cover the absence because it was a blackout period and she had previously denied several bids from other employees for vacations that week.


My hands were being tied,” Wills claimed, “because of the 21 other people who work in Food Service that need to have fair treatment.”


Vidrio was stunned. “I never thought she would fire me. She knew what I was going through. It’s not like I was on vacation having fun. It was an emergency.”


Greyhound also blocked Vidrio from receiving unemployment benefits for about four months, but the company lost on appeal.


Vidrio, who is a member of the ATU 1700 bargaining team for terminal workers, believes the firing is bigger than a personal conflict. Union activity, she said, “is one of the problems she has with me, but she doesn’t treat anyone fairly. She gives people lunch, but no breaks, and people don’t say anything because they’re afraid.”


Greyhound has shown total disrespect for terminal workers in opening rounds of contract bargaining. The company has rebuffed union proposals to negotiate a master contract for all represented employees, as is the practice with drivers and mechanics. Management has also made it clear that they want to computerize ticket sales and eliminate as many other positions as possible, and to staff the remaining jobs with casual labor.