The National Labor Relations Board in Washington, D.C, has upheld an August, 1997 decision by a California-based Administrative Law Judge that The New Otani Hotel Garden in Los Angeles acted fairly and properly when it terminated three employees in February, 1995. The NLRB board stated it could "find no basis for reversing the findings" of Administrative Law Judge Timothy D. Nelson and ruled in favor of The New Otani. This ruling is the only unfair labor practice involving Local 11 of the Hotel Workers and Restaurant Workers Union and The New Otani decided by the NLRB in Washington. On June 17, NLRB Chairman William B. Gould IV signed a Decision and Order in favor of the hotel affirming the rulings and findings of Judge Nelson.
Local 11 had based virtually its entire case on a claim of anti-union motivation for the discharge of three employees who were pro-union. Judge Nelson ruled that there was no actual tangible credible evidence to support any anti-union motivation against The New Otani. The union claimed the record as a whole would support "an inference" of anti-union motivation on the part of The New Otani. In issuing its ruling, the NLRB ruled that "the record as a whole does not warrant any inference of anti-union motivation for the discharges."
Overall, the NLRB decision is the major setback in the Local 11 campaign
begun five years ago to serve as the bargaining agent for The New Otani's
285 hotel and restaurant workers. Since 1993, Local 11 has tried to convince
the hotel employees to voluntarily join the union, which would involve
paying over $300 per year in union dues. At the beginning of the campaign,
enough workers resisted this effort, prompting Local 11 to embark on an
organizing drive to persuade New Otani management, to no avail, to force
its employees to join Local 11 against their will and pay union dues in
order to keep their jobs and receive benefits and wages they already had.
New Otani employees already receive wages and benefits which equal or exceed
those received by employees at
other major downtown Los Angeles hotels, including unionized ones.
The campaign by Local 11 has involved paid organizers, paid picketers and marchers, boycotts, leafletting, physical coercion, threats and having politicians and others sign form letters prepared by the union. The union has also targeted hotel investors, a key tactic in what is called a "corporate campaign" organizing effort. To date, Local 11 has opposed any attempt for a secret ballot election to be conducted by the U.S. Government to allow the employees to decide for themselves as to whether or not they want to join Local 11. Because of the union effort over the past three years to attach great importance to the NLRB case as the centerpiece of its organizing drive, it is apparent Local 11 gambled everything on winning the unfair labor practice charge it filed with the NLRB.
The New Otani, since its opening in 1977, has been widely respected
for its workplace diversity, fair wages and low employee turnover rate.
There are 24 nationalities represented at the New Otani with an average
annual turnover of just over 10%, compared to a national average of approximately
60%. Regarding longevity, 14 workers have been with the hotel for more
than 20 years and 50 others employed there for over 15 years. Since 1993,
management has repeatedly stated it would support an NLRB secret ballot
election so that the workers could fairly make a decision regarding unionization.
To date, Local 11 has opposed any attempt for such