Hotel Online Special Report
National Labor Relations Board Throws Out Union Charges Against Miramar Sheraton; 
Judge Admonishes Union for `Hollow and Hypocritical' Arguments
SANTA MONICA, Calif - Jan. 4, 1999--In two significant victories for the Miramar Sheraton Hotel and its employees, a Federal Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board and the NLRB Regional Director have dismissed Union claims against the Hotel in two separate cases, citing the Union's failure to properly represent bargaining unit employees, its lack of credibility and its "hollow and even hypocritical" arguments.

At issue were allegations by Local 814 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union that hotel management improperly had granted pay increases to employees in an attempt to influence the outcome of a decertification election sought by employees at the hotel.

In issuing his decision, Judge Timothy D. Nelson pointed out that the Union filed the charges, "only after failing to gain a majority vote from employees in the October 1, 1997 election," and he dismissed all but one of the Union's allegations of improper pay increases against the Hotel because the Union had failed to exercise due diligence. Moreover, he made clear that the Hotel had fulfilled all of its obligations to provide the Union with information.

In the decertification election the Miramar Sheraton Hotel's employees voted to end their relationship with Local 814, capping a more than three year struggle by Hotel employees to be free of the Union. Local 814 filed charges attempting to block the employees' decision, while at the same time refusing to agree a second election.

Judge Nelson's ruling repeatedly took to task Union Lead Organizer Kurt Petersen for testimony which amounted to "unreliable embellishment" and was "implicitly inconsistent" in attempting to explain why the Union had allowed over 20 months to elapse before requesting pay records from the Hotel, even though the Union previously had made such requests regularly. The Union's attorneys had argued that Petersen was late in filing the charges because he was unaware of the pay increases in question.

Judge Nelson stated at one point, "Petersen's attempt to suggest that the Union was motivated by a contract-enforcement unpersuasive. I regard that feature of his explanation as merely reflecting a clumsy attempt on his part to remain consistent with his claims elsewhere."

Nelson was particularly harsh on the Union's argument that, despite its theatrical posturing, it had hesitated to request the pay information in question out of concern for an employer's interest, stating that such arguments "have a hollow -- even a hypocritical -- quality in the context of this case." He suggests that the Union was "motivated by little more than a desire to make a political statement."

In a related case, the Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board last week dismissed a similar charge filed by the Union against the Hotel, citing a lack of evidence to support the allegation. Miramar Sheraton General Manager William Worcester said, "Judge Nelson's ruling unveils the Union's hypocrisy, its callous disregard for fairness as well as its true lack of concern for the employees it is supposed to represent. Promising a $1.8 million cash windfall to the Hotel's employees when the Union knew its claim was completely unjustified was a cruel hoax which clearly has backfired."

Worcester said he hoped the community and the media would take note of the fact that the Miramar Sheraton has consistently supported its employees right to vote on union representation, while Local 814 continues to use every unfair tactic in the book, including harassing the Hotel, to intimidate the employees and deny them their rights.

On a separate but similar matter related to two other Hotel employees' wages, the NLRB also refused to issue a complaint for "insufficient evidence."

The Judge will hear arguments on the one remaining charge which is not excluded by the statute of limitations. Miramar attorneys expressed confidence that it, too, would be dismissed after both sides present evidence.

Miramar Sheraton Hotel
Bill Barnes or Jessica Berg, 
Also See: Miramar Sheraton GM Resigns from Santa Monica CVB Due to HERE's Negative Campaign / Sept 1998 
Miramar Sheraton to HERE Local 814: Let Employees Vote Now; One Year Anniversary of Employees' Vote Against Union / Sept 1998 
National Labor Relations Board in Washington Supports New Otani, Los Angeles in Key Decision / June 1998 
Unions Get Tough on Hospitality / JMBM

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