NLRB issues complaint against Baltimore Hyatt

Allegation: Workers attempting to unionize were threatened and harassed.

hyatt faith fs

Last July, Hyatt hotel workers in Baltimore, escorted by faith leaders, prepare to hand bosses their NLRB complaint.

Photo by: Fern Shen

Hotel workers plan to take to the streets again today, as they did in July, to allege that the Hyatt Regency Baltimore is harassing workers involved in discussing unionizing.

But this time the waiters, kitchen workers and other employees have in hand an official complaint against the company – filed by the National Labor Relations Board – that makes the same charges.

The Hyatt engaged in surveillance, threatened workers with firing, more strictly enforced attendance and performance policies and discharged employees – all because the employees assisted the Union, according to the nine-page complaint, filed November 1.

The company’s actions amount to unfair labor practices that violate federal law, according to the complaint, issued by the NLRB General Counsel and signed by Acting Regional Director Albert W. Palewicz.

“We’ll Find Ms. Penny Pritzger!”

Workers, who have been talking to the national hotel and restaurant workers’ union Unite Here for months, formally complained to the NLRB about the Baltimore Hyatt in September.

On July 24, a delegation of workers, accompanied by faith leaders and two city council members, had tried to hand-deliver a copy of their complaint to supervisors. Instead of accepting it, management threatened to (and eventually did) call the police on the entire group.

Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke’s rejoinder at the time – “We’ll find Ms. Penny Pritzger and deliver it to her!” – was a reference to the Chicago heiress whose family owns the Hyatt hotel chain.

(Unite Here has been battling with the chain at hotels across the country but is stopping short of calling for a boycott in Baltimore. They say they just want the company to remain neutral during union discussions. That’s the remedy the union seeks for workers in the complaint, along with back pay to compensate for allegedly improper firings and disciplinary actions and reinstating fired workers.)

In a statement later emailed to The Brew, a company spokeswoman said Hyatt provides excellent working conditions, which allow employees to do their work safely and well. She also fired back at the union.

“The UniteHere campaign is not about creating a better workplace at Hyatt hotels, rather [it is] an attempt to boost union membership by organizing our associates through a non-democratic and intimidating process,” according to the statement emailed by pr associate Jennifer Clark on behalf of hotel general manager Gail Smith-Howard.

Unite Here Local 7 is listed as “the charging party” in the complaint. The company, Hyatt Hotels Corp., d/b/a Hyatt Regency Baltimore, is required to file its reply by Nov. 15. A hearing date in the case is set for January.

The workers plan to be outside the hotel at 300 Light Street today at 12 noon, along with the local NAACP president and the head of the Metropolitan Baltimore AFL-CIO, to discuss details of the complaint.

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  • cwals99

    It has been very energizing to be apart of these rallies and for those in the media who constantly say that the Occupy movement is dead, we have had one of the most productive summers in activism ever.  As we see here, there is a wide coalition of organizations joining to say enough is enough with the suspension of labor laws and loss of wages.  Unions are getting stronger even as the Chamber of Commerce PACs fund ad campaigns against the unions.

    I wrote today about how Maryland is not a union-friendly, or a worker-friendly city.  We have lots of work to do to raise citizens’ quality of life.  As I speak with union members I always encourage them to run union candidates against all Maryland incumbents.  Whether public-private partnerships killing public unions, Board of Estimate contract awards that allow labor laws to be circumvented, or Johns Hopkins advocating to keep minimum wages low, these are the areas labor needs to move towards after they unionize Hyatt.

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