|JMBM / April 1999 - Many employers want to avoid any sign
of compromise with a union, but neutrality agreements can be important
strategic took for developers and owners in at least two situations:
Owners and developers of hotels today will often find that they cannot get critical entitlements or permits they need for new development and other activities unless they give the bureaucrats a major concession for their union constituencies. These representatives or administrators want to acknowledge their union supporters - assisting in the unionization process, and one of the most common "suggestions is a neutrality agreement.
The "standard" union version of a neutrality agreement amounts to complete surrender - you give up everything when you have serious options available. We have been successful in negotiating some substantial improvements from this standard, including the union's agreement not to strike, leaflet, pamphlet or engage in any negative publicity during a negotiated period. In our negotiations, we strive to obtain union agreement not to join with other trade unions in their disputes with the company. In addition, the neutrality agreement may obligate the union to refrain from activities to thwart the efforts of the developer or operator with a particular project.
One of labor's favorite tactics is to maneuver behind the scenes with local elected officials in an attempt to delay or prevent planning commission members, city councilmen, or other local politicians from issuing building permits, approving zoning plans or otherwise making it easy for commercial developers to proceed with a project.
Labor has also been known to file questionable complaints with state
regulatory agencies to burden the company with administrative proceedings.
This negative publicity and misuse of process can really hit a company's
bottom line and delay or even stop a project before it gets off the ground.
Negotiating the right neutrality agreement can avoid these costly scenarios.
To date, the project is underway without incident. Mr. Jordan's advice to clients is, "Don't give it all up! If you sign the standard union neutrality agreement, you have gotten nothing. You have to know your strengths and how to increase your bargaining leverage." Knowing how to structure these agreements and carrying out the necessary elements to make them work for the employer are the key ingredients.
Marta Fernandez, a labor partner in the firm's Los Angeles office, who also represents several developers and hospitality clients, shares Mr. Jordan's views. "We like to be involved at the very outset - in the early planning and strategy phases and way before any negotiations begin. That is when the tone and direction are set and where we can bring great value and maximum benefit to the team."
|Also See:||Venetian Files Federal Lawsuit Against Culinary Union for Harassment / March 1999|
|Janice Loux Reelected as President-Business Manager at Boston's Local 26 Hotel & Restaurant Workers Union / March 1999|
Labor Relations Board Throws Out Union Charges Against Miramar Sheraton;
Admonishes Union for `Hollow and Hypocritical' Arguments / Jan 1999