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Labor board rejects Hyatt petition to hold union vote

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The National Labor Relations Board has rejected a petition filed by the Hyatt Regency Hotel Indianapolis requesting that Hyatt employees be given the chance to vote on whether they want to unionize, Hyatt said Monday morning in a press release.

Officials for the downtown hotel filed the petition earlier this month, asking the NLRB to hold a secret-ballot vote to determine if the workers 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.

Union officials, however, prefer a “card check” system, where the union must obtain cards signed by a majority of the hotel’s employees to unionize the workers. They say the card-check process gives union officials face-to-face time with employees to explain the issues.

Critics of the card-check system say it allows unions to intimidate those who don't want to unionize.

A Unite Here spokeswoman had referred to the Hyatt’s petition as a “publicity stunt.”

Hyatt is considering its options for seeking review of the NLRB decision and continues to call on Unite Here to end its boycotts, the hotel said.

Hyatt officials say the union has 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.

“While it’s unusual for an employer to request an election, the option has existed at the NLRB for more than 75 years now, and we believe it is the best way in this case to bring an end to the boycotts, pickets, home visits, and aggressive outreach that has intimidated our associates, their families, and many of our guests,” said Robb Webb, chief human resources officer of Chicago-based Hyatt, in a prepared statement.

United Here claims housekeepers there make half as much as those in unionized hotels and are required to clean twice as many rooms on a daily basis.

But a server at the Hyatt’s Eagle’s Nest restaurant told IBJ earlier this month that 100 of 144 [hourly] workers have signed a petition requesting a secret ballot.

“A secret ballot protects us from intimidation from either side, the union or hotel management," Marion Gonzalez, a server at the Hyatt’s Eagle’s Nest restaurant, said. "That’s the way our president is elected, and that’s the way this vote should be taken.”

 

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  • No Act Abolished Secret Ballots
    The EFCA would have allowed certification of union bargaining representatives in limited situations where 51% of employees sign cards supporting union representation. But secret ballot elections would have continued to be held in case where less than 50% signed such cards, but more than 30% signed. So the EFCA would not have done away with secret ballows, it would have supplemented the system of secret ballots. Also EFCA left untouched the secret ballow decert election process.
  • Pure Publicity Stunt!
    Hyatt's is a pure publicity stunt. The issue isn't whether Board representation elections should be secret, but whether an employer can file a petition triggering a secret ballot election under the National Labor Relations Act. Whether you like it or not, employers can't file such petitions. Why? Because the Act's plain wording precludes it. Section 9(c)(1)(A) clearly says "by an employee or group of employees or any individual or labor organization acting in their behalf alleging that a substantial number of employees (i) wish to be represented for collective bargaining" Under that plain wording, employers can't file petitions.

    What would have to happen for Hyatt to prevail? For the Board to rule for Hyatt, it would have to ignore the plain wording of the statute and 80 years of precedent, and administratively rewrite the statute to insert "employer" despite the legislatures omission of the term. To ignore plain satutory wording and precedent would assure being overturned on appeal. So even if the Board absurdly ruled for Hyatt, Hyatt would lose at the appellate court level. So, this was a publicity stunt, with nothing to do with secret ballots.
  • Why are you surprised?
    Given who's in the White House and what party they belong to; I'm certainly not. Just prior to the 2008 election - in May that year, in fact - the company I used to work for requested and got a secret ballot election (the union won, but that's a different story). I'd suggest the Hyatt appeal; there's certainly no reason for the NLRB to deny a secret ballot vote... the law that was supposed to eliminate secret ballots altogether failed to pass, IIRC.
  • Amen!
    FindIng it hard to believe and seriously UNDEMOCTRATIC that a private ballot box is not acceptable anymore! Seems like the NLRB doesn't believe individuals are smart enough to make decisions for themselves? Also seems to be another means of forced participation - NOT politically correct, YET, is it?!
  • Publicity Stunt or Democratic Process
    A secret ballot is not a "publicity stunt", it's part of the democratic process.

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