Phoenix, AZ - Several janitors at Sky Harbor are back on the job after they say their employer unfairly fired them.
The workers claim they were terminated for wanting union representation.
Isabell Marquez is one of the four employees who received her job as a janitor back.
Marquez says she makes minimum wage and doesn't receive sick time or benefits.
"We deserve better conditions," said Marquez. "We deserve respect and dignity here. We deserve a voice."
To find that voice, Marquez and some of her co-workers started to organize a union.
But Isabell tells ABC15 her employer, GCA, a private company that contracts with the city, learned of their intentions so they fired her and the three others.
"It was really bad," said Marquez. "I was unemployed for six months. I lost my apartment, my car. I couldn't pay my bills and then (GCA) denied my unemployment so it was really hard.
The National Labor Relations Board investigated and ruled in favor of the employees.
An out of court settlement resulted in GCA not only reinstating the fired janitors but also giving them thousands of dollars in back pay.
"A lot of folks would have given up and gone somewhere else," said Brendan Walsh, Executive Director of Central Arizonans for a Sustainable Economy or CASE. "They stood up for themselves and feel validated for having done that."
Walsh and CASE helped fight on the janitors behalf.
He calls the ruling a victory for workers rights.
"When companies make a lot of money with their contracts with the city, those benefits should be shared fairly with those who do the work," said Walsh.
A spokesperson for GCA says the company doesn't comment on personnel-related matters.
Marquez is just glad to have her job back.
"I finally started paying my bills," said Marquez. "I got a car. I'm not struggling to get to work anymore."
And, Marquez says, she hasn't given up her fight to unionize the janitors at Sky Harbor.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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