Mayor vetoes hotel-worker blacklisting proposal

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has vetoed a proposed ordinance aimed at hiring practices by local hotels, the mayor's office announced Thursday afternoon.

The proposal, passed Monday night by the City-County Council, said hotels could no longer ban contract workers from direct employment. The measure was supported by Democrats and passed 16-9 along party lines.

Hotel housekeepers working for employment services allege hotels won’t hire them directly when better jobs become available at the hotel, per agreements between hotels and employment agencies.

Also, hotel workers who’ve resigned from temporary agencies and apply for employment directly with hotels have been told they’re ineligible for a period of time as long as one year, said Sarah Lyons of the hotel union-organizing group UniteHere!

Lyons said the practice has left about 1,000 workers trapped in minimum-wage hotel jobs with no health insurance or other benefits.

In a letter to the council explaining his veto, Ballard said state law already prohibits so-called "blacklisting," making a duplicate ordinance unnecessary. He also said there was "no compelling evidence" that showed "any hotel or cleaning service in Indianapolis had engaged in 'blacklisting.'"

In addition, he said, the proposal would be an "overreaching and overly burdensome city regulation on business" that interferes with contracting between private entities.

Hotel industry representatives told a council committee last week that local hotels have no contracts with employment services that prevent them from hiring workers directly.

Blacklisting allegations are part of a lawsuit filed in federal court here last January by 14 hotel workers against several downtown hotels and Hospitality Staffing Solutions. The suit, which is pending, also alleges wage and hour violations.


  • Not a Problem
    There is nothing unusual about temporary staffing agencies trying to protect their employees from being hired away by their clients. If you're the hotel operator and you want to hire an employee from a staffing service, you can do so, but you have to pay a fee to the staffing agency. Headhunters for professionals work the same way. The difference here is that the workers are (largely) unskilled so the fee is probably more than the hotel operator would want to pay. The suggestion that vetoeing an ordinance means the mayor is "in somebody's pocket" or that there is collusion is unsubstantiated. I suspect that this had more to do with the fact that there is a union behind the proposed ordinance. Permanent employment would make it easier for the union to organize.
  • All temp agencies work that way
    Not sure why the hotel community was being singled out in this ordinance. That's how all temp agencies work, whether you need a clerical assistant, accountant, or hotel housekeeper. The temp agencies spend money on hiring, screening, training, payroll management, etc. which is why they require a fee from the employer (like a hotel) if they want to hire that person directly from the agency. So why single out the hotels? If anything, the council should propose an ordinance ensuring the temp agencies clearly communicate to new recruits that this is what they're getting themselves into, or that the temp employees can legally choose to pay the agency's fee themselves (maybe in installments) so the employer isn't disincetivized to do so.
  • black listing
    The hotel representatives are not telling the truth. My son worked for a temp agency for a year when he moved back to Indy. Many of the places that the temp agency sent him to work were looking for workers, but he was told by the hotel/restaurants that they could not take his application as they had a contract with the temp agency the prohibits them from hiring a temp employee unless they pay a large amount of money to the temp agency or had worked a certain amount of hours for the temp agency at that certain employment location. If they had the specified number of hours worked, then the company could offer the temp worker the opportunity to apply for that position. What the temp agency did was to send the employee to another location so they did not reach to amount of hours that the employer said they needed to be released from employment with the temp agency in order for the employer not to have to pay that large amounth of money to the temp agency for that employee. Kind of like selling your sould
  • additional pressure
    The only thing a separate ordinance would do is to put additional pressure on the colluding hotels and employment services. Ballard is showing that he is in the pocket of these people and could care less about a $8 per hour housekeeper.

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