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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.”

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  • cwals99

    The point that Lingo makes with this Hyatt employment issue resonates throughout the Inner Harbor and other Enterprise Zones and it is the same deal for workers….public money and land given in exchange for good jobs and a focus on the underserved.  Each time all of this is ignored.  When Carl Stokes put in the clause of housing for 17 underserved families in what will be the Lexington Development Zone I thought how could these pols be more blatant in their attempts to undermine existing laws.

    Lingo and Unite Here 7 saw the same deal just happen with the casino deal as these pols never meant for the casino to have strong jobs and a union.  The unions walk in circles protesting lost jobs for goodness sakes.  I spent all last year writing against gambling telling pols that these would not be good jobs for city workers nor would most of the proceeds make it to K-12 classroom education.  Casinos not unionized have the worst work environment in any industry especially when they are allowed 24 hour openings as with Maryland Live.  Labor unions again were duped into supporting an issue and left hanging.  They will have learned this time around!!

    For those not caring about the plight of ever impoverished working class people you had better consider that these corporate execs have no intention of paying anybody strong wages that do not have strong connections.  That is how you get a third world plutocracy.

  • Barnadine_the_Pirate

    The notion that the City Council will stand up to rich developers and corporations is laughable.

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