Magazine article HRMagazine

Hotel Management Violated National Labor Relations Act

Magazine article HRMagazine

Hotel Management Violated National Labor Relations Act

Article excerpt

Frankl v. HTH Corp., 9th Cir., No. 11-18042 (Sept. 6, 2012).

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that an employer that insisted on unreasonable positions in negotiations, withdrew union recognition and terminated union officials violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

HTH Corp., operator of the Pacific Beach Hotel in Honolulu, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 142, began collective bargaining negotiations in January 2006. During negotiations, HTH insisted on three provisions that would retain in HTH the "exclusive right to unilaterally and arbitrarily" change all conditions of employment, retain in management the "sole and exclusive right to manage its workforce at will," and establish a grievance procedure that routed complaints to hotel management for final determination.

In December 2006, HTH assigned management operations to Pacific Beach Hotel Management, an ostensibly independent entity created by HTH. HTH told the union to conduct all further negotiations with Pacific Beach Hotel Management but did not disclose that HTH retained final approval authority regarding any agreement that would last more than a year or cost more than $350,000. Toward the end of 2007, Pacific Beach Hotel Management asked HTH to disclose its approval authority to the union and approve an agreement. HTH responded by canceling Pacific Beach Hotel Management's management contract, and bargaining ceased on Dec. 1, 2007.

Upon taking back management of the hotel, HTH withdrew recognition from the union, claiming that it had lost majority support among the employees. Unilaterally, HTH changed the employees' terms and conditions of employment by, among other things, requiring all employees to reapply for their jobs and refusing to rehire seven employees who had been members of the unionbargaining committee. One of the employees HTH declined to rehire was union organizer Rhandy Villanueva.

The union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that HTH had withdrawn recognition of the union without just cause, unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of employment, and threatened and terminated hotel employees who were active with the union. HTH contended that its bargaining position up until the transfer of management to Pacific Beach Hotel Management reflected "hard bargaining, not bad faith. …

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