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Hyatt seeks employee vote on union

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The Hyatt Regency Long Beach is pursuing a unique tactic to defend against an ongoing corporate campaign by UNITE/HERE Local 11. For going on three years, the union has been trying to force Hyatt (and the Long Beach Hilton) to agree to recognize the union based on "card check," rather than a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB. As part of its campaign, the union has held protest marches and called for a boycott of both hotels, seeking to compel the hotels to bypass a vote by employees. The hotels have steadfastly insisted that the employees should vote whether or not to become unionized.

In a role reversal, Hyatt petitioned the NLRB last week to conduct an election among employees in Long Beach and at other hotels around the country. Ususally, unions file petitions seeking elections, but since UNITE/HERE refuses to utilize the traditional secret ballot election process, Hyatt is trying to short circuit their corporate campaign by asking the employees to vote on whether they want UNITE/HERE. The NLRB in Los Angeles has scheduled a hearing on the petition, and UNITE/HERE may be put in the uncomfortable position of arguing against holding an election - probably because they don't think they have support from a majority of employees.

UNITE/HERE doesn't like elections, because it takes a great deal of hard work and expenditure of resources to convince employees to vote in their favor. It is much easier to convince an employee to sign a card, particularly if the employer is muzzled through a neutrality agreement and employees are only getting one side of the story. Like anything else, it's easier to compete when the deck is stacked in your favor.

If the NLRB schedules an election and the Hyatt employees choose to remain union free, it wouldn't prevent the union from continuing the marches and boycotts, but it would call into question whether the union's goals are aligned with the employees' interests.

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