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Hyatt, union at odds over voting method

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Officials for the Hyatt Regency Hotel Indianapolis on Thursday filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board requesting that the NLRB oversee a secret ballot vote by the downtown hotel’s employees to determine if they want to unionize their ranks.

Unite Here, a New York-based labor union, has been trying to unionize employees at the Hyatt Regency, the Westin Indianapolis and the Sheraton Hotel & Suites at Keystone Crossing for more than two years.

Hyatt officials say the union has been been especially aggressive in its organizing activities against Hyatt in recent months, even calling for a boycott of the hotel because it doesn't employ union workers.

Hyatt Indianapolis General Manager Brian Comes said the tactics are starting to cost his hotel business.

“Unite Here has been very aggressive in calling our clients and asking them to boycott our hotel,” Comes said. “Last month, we had a catered event cancelled, and the NFL Players Association decided not to stay here for the NFL Combine like they have in the past. That hurts not only the hotel, but our employees as well.”

The Hyatt filed the petition at the request of a number of its employees, Comes said, adding that he expects a decision from the NLRB within a week.

Hyatt officials at three California hotels in Santa Clara, Long Beach and San Francisco, filed similar petitions Thursday.

“I strongly believe all our employees should have the right to vote in private without the intimidation of someone knowing how they voted,” Comes said. “Hyatt has union and non-union hotels across the country, and we respect our employees’ right to choose.”

Unite Here spokeswoman Becky Smith said the petition is no more than a “publicity stunt.”

Unite Here officials prefer a “card check,” system, Smith said, where the union must obtain cards signed by a majority of the hotel’s employees to unionize the workers. Smith said that card-check process gives union officials face-to-face time with employees to explain the issues.

“There’s no such thing as a fair election when only one party has access to the employees,” Smith said. “Hyatt knows this, and a secret ballot is just another attempt to avoid a fair process.”

Smith also said Thursday’s petition is a diversionary tactic to take the focus off “the real issues.” Those issues, Smith said, include Hyatt housekeepers that make half as much as those in unionized hotels and are required to clean twice as many rooms on a daily basis.

Comes countered that his management staff fosters a familial atmosphere among Hyatt workers and pointed to the fact that a number of them have been with the company for more than 10 years.

Marion Gonzalez, a server at the Hyatt’s Eagle’s Nest restaurant, said she has no problem with a vote to unionize, but said the majority of her co-workers favor a secret ballot.

“We have 100 of 144 [hourly] workers who have signed a petition requesting a secret ballot,” Gonzalez said. “A secret ballot protects us from intimidation from either side, the union or hotel management. That’s the way our president is elected, and that’s the way this vote should be taken.”

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  • rearding scotts comment
    scott have you ever worked in the hospitality industry? do you not realized how hard it is to find gainful employment right now? When is the last time you attended a banquet? did you tip your bartender even if it was an open bar? You do realized these employees are paid 3 bucks an hour and pay their bills on their tips..
  • Move along...
    If Hyatt is such a horrible place to work, why don't all the workers move on to better positions? It seems like the appropriate thing is for workers to decide where they'd like to work instead of forcing employer to give them whatever they want.

    Unionization is little more than legalized blackmail.
    • if you paid you employees in the first place
      it never would have gone this far. Sorry Brian.. i dont think you are worried about your employees pockets or jobs.. You are worried about your own. I would be to.Especially since the Hyatt is very outdated now and there are so many more beautiful hotels in downtown Indy.
    • Who is Afraid
      Let me see if I understand this.

      Hyatt is happy to have a union vote as long as it is a secret ballot.

      The union only wants a vote if they can see face to face who is voting for them or against them.

      Which side seems to feel that the voters can make a fair, objective judgment and vote that way without fear of reprisal? It seems the union feels that without the implied threat of knowing who votes against them, they know they can't win. Seems to me that means they shouldn't win--so the secret ballot is the way to go.

      And by the way, isn't it interesting that the unions are all for the democratic process when it works in their favor, and as soon as it doesn't (Ohio, Wisconsin, et. al.) then they cry foul?
    • UNIONS DO NOT WORK
      Here's the truth. The General Motors Union Excutives voted time and time again for over 45 years to raise pay,raise benifits and pay their empoyees WAY more than what they were worth. Now that they are Presidents and vice presidents of General Motors their FIRST request was to cut pay for their employees.....CLASSIC!!!!!. Now that they understand that Unions DO NOT work anymore they are getting critized by the new union executives....What comes around goes around gentleman and ladies. GET RID OF UNIONS!!!!!

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