Earlier this month, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 in Seattle prosecuted Embassy Suites and the UNITE HERE Local 8 union in housekeeper Gladys Bryant’s case.
In this case, the union and hotel officials were charged for using an illegal “neutrality agreement” to force unionization at the hotel’s workplace.
The case in question takes on a legal standard that allowed union bosses to implement a “card check” drive to impose union representation on the workers. In addition, they received illegal assistance from the hotel. Bryant received free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
In May 2018, the UNITE HERE Local 8 union held a card check drive at the Embassy Suites hotel which circumvented the NLRB’s secret-ballot election process, which is usually filled with abuse.
Following the installation of the UNITE HERE Local 8 union at the hotel, Bryant filed unfair labor practice charges. The union leaders and the hotel came to a so-called “neutrality agreement” where union organizers were given space in the hotel to meet and solicit workers.
In addition, the agreement gave union officials a list of all the workers’ names, jobs, and contact information in order to help the union collect authorization cards from employees.
NLRB Region 19 officials refused to prosecute the union and the hotel for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), which prompted Bryant to appeal the case to the NLRB General Counsel in January 2019. Consequently, the General Counsel discovered that the union’s card check recognition was sullied because of how Embassy Suites provided significant aid to union officials’ organization drive through the “neutrality agreement.” This represented a clear violation of the NLRA.
The NLRB General Counsel was in agreement with Bryant’s legal counsel at the Foundation that Embassy Suites gave UNITE HERE’s campaign more than just “ministerial aid.” The NLRB has a well-established policy of making sure that employers don’t taint employee efforts to kick out a union by a providing list of bargaining unit employees or the use of company resources.
Bryant was able to successfully argue in his appeal that the “ministerial aid” must additionally apply when an employer helps union officials’ efforts to attain monopoly bargaining power over workers. Therefore, the General Counsel’s ruling applies the “ministerial aid” standard consistently, regardless of the employer’s assistance being in favor of or opposed to unionization.
The NLRB General Counsel deferred the case to Region 19 so the union and employer could face prosecution. According to NLRB Region 19’s complaint, the “Respondent Union obtained recognition from Respondent Employer” while serving as the monopoly bargaining agent in the workplace despite how UNITE HERE officials “did not represent an uncoerced majority of the unit.” The case will now be put front in of an Administrative Law Judge.
“There is nothing neutral about so-called ‘neutrality agreements,’ which are nothing more than pressure-cooked, backroom deals between union bosses and company officials to impose forced unionization on workers from the top down,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It is long past time that the NLRB eliminate the unjustifiable double standard in the law which has been used for years to assist union organizers in unionizing through coercive card check drives, while at the same time making it harder for workers to remove a union they oppose.”