Sheraton Hotel Workers File Federal Charges Against Union Organizing Campaign Alleging Bribery and Harassment
Santa Monica, Calif. (December 4, 2003) – Six employees at the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel today filed federal charges to challenge a joint effort by union and company officials to corral the hotel staff into union membership against their wishes.
Evidence suggests that Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Union Local 11 operatives repeatedly attempted to bribe and intimidate employees into supporting the union during a recent organizing drive. Feeling coerced, the group of employees contacted the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, and the Foundation’s legal-aid attorneys filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging unfair labor practices against both the union and the hotel.
The union organizers used the harassment and alleged bribes as part of an effort to induce employees to sign union authorization cards that would be counted as a vote for unionization. Because workers were harassed into signing union authorization cards, and many revoked signed cards, the employees also dispute the union’s claim that a majority of Sheraton workers actually support the union. The employees, therefore, contend that HERE officials should be prevented from bargaining on their behalf.
“Union officials knew they could not win a traditional, government-supervised secret ballot election of the employees,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “That’s why they resorted to bullying employees one-by-one into signing union recognition cards.”
During the union organizers’ push for signatures, HERE officials reportedly made significant rent payments on behalf of multiple workers and offered fruit baskets and other special favors to certain hotel employees. Now that the HERE union is recognized by hotel management as the workplace representative for all employees, HERE officials are demanding that all employees be forced to pay union dues or fees as a job condition.
The card-check organizing campaign came about as a result of a so-called “neutrality agreement,” under which union organizers did not have to face a secret ballot election of the employees and were granted broad access to the workplace to pressure employees into signing union cards. Union organizers even followed employees to their homes. While the NLRB charges are pending, Foundation attorneys are also investigating whether the City of Santa Monica imposed the scheme on Sheraton. Such action by a local government body would be preempted by federal law.