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Hotels File Unfair Labor Charges Against Workers Union

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By Jorge Casuso

July 6, 2023 -- The bargaining group for 44 hotels in LA and Orange counties has filed unfair labor practice charges against the hotel workers union alleging it violated the law by striking over claims unrelated to the employees' contracts.

The charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board come on the heals of a three-day strike at three dozen hotels, including five in Santa Monica, that ended Wednesday ("Workers Strike at 5 Santa Monica Hotels," July 4, 2023).

The Coordinated Bargaining Group's charges claim that UNITE HERE Local 11 is insisting that hotels "must agree to support a ballot measure to house the homeless together with other hotel guests."

The group also claims the union is insisting that "the hotels impose a 7 percent tax on guests of unionized hotels and grow Local 11 in locations outside of Los Angeles."

"Insisting that these provisions must be in any contract settlement and striking to include them is not only unlawful, but it is also a real obstacle to reaching agreement on a contract," said Keith Grossman, the spokesperson for the group.

"If the Union really wanted an agreement to help the employees, it would have dropped these issues long ago instead of taking employees out on strike over them."

In addition, the bargaining group claims that Local 11 is engaging in unfair labor practices "by refusing to bargain in good faith and refusing to provide documentation relating to its demands."

This includes documents backing the union's claims that the bargaining group's proposal may not secure employees' health care for the next four years.

"The documentation we have requested would show that the Union's public claims are simply incorrect," Grossman said, adding the the proposal ensures the health care coverage.

"The information we are seeking from Local 11 is obviously important and necessary to the bargaining, and it is unfortunate that the Union is more focused on strikes and its political agenda than on bargaining in good faith."

The Los Angeles Responsible Hotel Ordinance -- which will be placed on the March 2024 ballot after hotel union workers gathered 126,000 signatures -- is strongly opposed by the hotels.

The measure would require hotels to report vacant rooms daily to the City of Los Angeles, which would provide vouchers to house the homeless in the rooms.

Meanwhile, the union's 7 percent fee would be used to create a Hospitality Workforce Housing Assistance Trust Fund to help provide emergency loans and "bridge housing for needy workers" and help fund affordable housing projects.

The Hotel Association of Los Angeles contends that the two demands are government decisions hotels should not be forced to make.

The lawsuit comes in the wake of walkouts staged after the union contracts expired on June 30 with negotiations at a standstill.

The union is seeking an immediate $5 an hour raise for the workers -- who earn between $20 and $25 an hour -- with an additional $3 an hour in subsequent years of the contract. They also are seeking improved health care and pension benefits.

The hotel bargaining group has offered to increase the hourly wage by $2.50 the first year and $6.25 over 4 years and guaranteed that current health care and pension benefits will continue.

Union officials warn that the walkouts mark "just the first wave of strikes and disruption" at the 60 area union hotels negotiating contracts ("Hotel Union Strike Ends, More Could Follow," July 5, 2023).

The hotel union did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

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