Trump's NLRB: Ban Union from Jobsites
His board is going after a hotel that decided to support their employees' efforts to unionize
When a union comes into a workplace, the best-case scenario is that the employer doesn’t actively fight them. This has been the case for decades as some employers agree to stay neutral in a union election. At the Yotel Boston hotel, the company signed an agreement with UNITE HERE Local 26 that the company would stay out of the union drive. Now the NLRB is questioning the legality of the agreement and challenging neutrality union agreements.
According to a complaint that the NLRB released on Monday, the board alleges that Local 26 began organizing the workers at the hotel and reached an agreement with Yotel that the company would allow organizers onto the property and they would provide contact information for their employees. The board also alleges that management publicly expressed support for the union to employees. With most of the hotels in the area already being represented by UNITE HERE Local 26, this would seem like a smart move on Yotel’s part. By supporting the election, they would avoid a long and costly fight that would build animosity between management and the workers.
However, not everyone was happy. According to the complaint, four housekeepers, Cindy J. Alarcon Vasquez, Lady Laura Javier, Yestca Perez Barrios, and Danela Guzman, decided to contest the move with the NLRB. In December of 2019, they filed an unfair labor complaint against the hotel and the union claiming the hotel illegally assisted the union in pressuring employees to sign union cards. Since the hotel agreed to card check, these cards were the equivalent of votes to support bringing in the union. Their case was supported by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund (NRWLDF). Now the union and the hotel will be forced to go through an NLRB hearing in March to decide if their actions were a violation of labor law.
By filing this case the NRWLDF is pushing the board to establish a new precedent. They believe that since the board has said it is illegal for a company to interfere in opposition to a union drive, it should also be illegal for a company to assist a union drive. Over the summer the NLRB issued a similar complaint against UNITE HERE and the Embassy Suites in Seattle. That case is awaiting a hearing date, likely in February of 2021.
In response to the complaint from the NLRB, which is equivalent to civil charges being filed, UNITE Local 26 called the complaint “off the wall.”
“This is another last-gasp Trump administration move, similar to ending protections for birds, drilling in Alaska, and gutting the civil service,” said President Carlos Aramayo. “As he’s walking out the door there’s these attempts to throw as many bombs as he possibly can.”
He went on to say that Yotel workers are in the midst of negotiating their first contract, although talks have been put on hold due to the pandemic. Many hotel workers are currently out of work due to COVID-19 and the restrictions it has put on travel have caused occupancy rates to plummet.
The goal of this case is simple. The NLRB wants to make it more difficult to organize a union. The NRWLDF has spent years fighting to make it illegal for companies to enter agreements that allow a union access to staff contact information and allow unions onto the property, let alone have management say it is okay to join the union. In reality, what this new standard would do is make it more difficult for the two sides to work together. Ultimately it is good for everyone if management and the union are able to work together, but in the NRWLDF’s world peaceful relations between the workers and management are a bad thing, so they are using Trump’s NLRB to stop it.
Although the hearing for the Yotel case will take place in March, it is not clear if a new Biden administration will be able to stop prosecuting the case. This is because the NLRB will still have a Republican General Counsel until November 2021 and Republicans will hold control of the board until at least August of 2021 when Republican member William Emanuel’s term expires.