Home | BaltimoreBrew.com
The Dripby Fern Shen9:39 amJan 25, 20130

Hyatt and workers settle, union looks ahead

After about five days of testimony about alleged intimidation and improper firing, the Hyatt Regency Baltimore settled a federal unfair labor practices complaint, the union and hotel announced yesterday.

“We agreed to the settlement to preclude a long and costly trial, despite our firm belief that Hyatt has acted professionally, appropriately, and in a way that’s supportive of Hyatt associates,” Gail Smith-Howard, the hotel’s general manager, said in the statement about the agreement, signed Wednesday.

As part of the setttlement, two of the terminated employees were rehired with back pay and a third, who has taken a job elsewhere, agreed “to a substantial settlement,” said Tracy Lingo, of the hospitality workers’ union Unite Here Local 7. (A fourth employee whose employment the union had alleged was unfairly terminated, was rehired earlier.)

During the National Labor Relations Board hearing, which commenced on January 14, an NLRB staff attorney argued that employees talking about working conditions and the union had been improperly fired, harshly disciplined, intimidated and spied-on by management.

Hyatt also, as part of the agreement, agreed to wipe out disciplinary actions taken against employees between June and January for arriving late by less than 10 minutes, Lingo said. The workers, in their November complaint against the hotel, had said management was more strictly enforcing the policy in retaliation for workers having discussions about the union.

The hotel also agreed to post a statement on site that summarizes the allegations and affirms employee rights, Lingo said. “All the workers are telling us about how they feel much more free to discuss workplace issues,” she said. “We think this [settlement] is a very positive development.”

Next Steps

Lingo added that the workers’ success this week with their complaint does not end their issues with Hyatt Regency Baltimore management.

“We still have an issue with their increasing use of inadequately-paid temp workers who don’t get any kind of benefits,” Lingo said, noting that most temporary employees at the Hyatt make about $8-per-hour.

The hotel, built in 1981 on city-owned land at the Inner Harbor, is actually owned by the city. (The Chicago-based hotel chain leases the site from them.) The company has previously disputed the union’s claims that its use of temporary workers is excessive or improper.

“The city gave them tax breaks and subsidies when they came in and they agreed the hotel would create hundreds of ‘good jobs,’” Lingo said. “It hasn’t happened.”

She said the union and workers are hoping for a Baltimore City Council hearing and that the city  “would agree to take action to make them keep their promise.”

Most Popular