Complaint comes after top NLRB prosecutor found Embassy Suites’ ‘neutrality agreement’ with union illegally assisted union boss organizing drive
Seattle, WA (July 2, 2020) – National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 19 in Seattle will prosecute Embassy Suites and the UNITE HERE Local 8 union in housekeeper Gladys Bryant’s case, which charges union and hotel officials with using an illegal “neutrality agreement” to impose a union on the hotel’s workers.
The case challenges a legal standard that allowed union officials to run a hasty “card check” drive to foist union representation on the workers with unlawful assistance from her employer. Bryant is receiving free legal representation from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.
Bryant filed unfair labor practice charges after the UNITE HERE Local 8 union was installed at the Embassy Suites hotel in May 2018 through an oft-abused card check drive which bypassed the NLRB’s regular secret-ballot election process. As part of the so-called “neutrality agreement,” Embassy Suites gave union organizers space in the hotel to meet and solicit employees. It also provided union officials with a list of all employees’ names, jobs, and contact information to assist the union in collecting authorization cards from employees.
After NLRB Region 19 officials declined to prosecute the union or employer for violations of the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA), Bryant appealed the case to the NLRB General Counsel in January 2019. In response to the appeal, the General Counsel found that the union’s card check recognition was tainted because Embassy Suites through the “neutrality agreement” provided significant aid to the union officials’ organizing efforts in violation of the NLRA.
The NLRB General Counsel agreed with Bryant’s Foundation attorneys that Embassy Suites provided UNITE HERE’s organizing campaign with more than so-called “ministerial aid.” The NLRB has long held that an employer taints employees’ efforts to remove a union if it gives the employees support such as providing a list of bargaining unit employees or use of company resources. Bryant’s appeal successfully argued that the “ministerial aid” standard must also apply when an employer aids union officials’ efforts to gain monopoly bargaining power over workers. Thus, the General Counsel’s ruling applies the “ministerial aid” standard consistently, no matter whether the employer’s assistance would be in favor of or opposed to unionization.
The NLRB General Counsel remanded the case to Region 19 so the union and employer could be prosecuted. The complaint issued by NLRB Region 19 states that “Respondent Union obtained recognition from Respondent Employer” as the monopoly bargaining agent in the workplace despite the fact that UNITE HERE officials “did not represent an uncoerced majority of the unit.” The case will now be tried before an NLRB 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,” said 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.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.