The Chicago regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a complaint against the Congress Plaza Hotel in downtown Chicago. The NLRB charges include:
—Bargaining in bad faith with the union;
—Unilaterally changing the terms and conditions of employment without bargaining in good faith with the union;
—Failing to provide the union with financial records and other information after making claims that the hotel was unable to pay proposed wages and benefits;
—Forbidding union workers from attending a function at the hotel to which they were invited, threatening workers who attended the event with arrest and disciplinary warnings.
“These charges demonstrate what Congress workers have known for a long time—that the Congress Hotel is a renegade employer that refuses to follow basic labor law,” says Henry Tamarin, President of HERE Local 1. “The Congress Hotel`s behavior has put a black eye on Chicago`s hospitality industry.”
After declaring an impasse in negotiations, the Congress Hotel unilaterally implemented a final contract offer that includes a 7% wage cut with no raise for four years and the unlimited right to subcontract all work. While housekeepers in most Chicago hotels now earn $10.00 per hour, the Congress Hotel cut workers` wages to $8.21. The hotel also refused to make payments necessary to maintain health insurance, which would effectively eliminate health coverage for workers and their families.
According to one of the Union`s attorneys, Wesley Kennedy of the law firm of Allison, Slutsky & Kennedy, “the Complaint indicates that the NLRB General Counsel has found substantial evidence that the Company has violated federal labor law, through far-reaching unfair labor practices undermining the Union`s ability to reach a fair agreement for the workers. The unfair labor practices alleged are so serious that they would make the strike an unfair labor practice strike, prohibiting the Company from permanently replacing the striking workers.”
In the first hotel strike in Chicago`s history, Congress workers walked out on June 15, 2003.
“From cutting workers` wages to offering substandard service, the Congress owners have shown their disregard for the Chicago community,” said President Tamarin. “This historic step on the part of the Labor Board demonstrates the rogue attitude of this employer.”