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Santa Monica Hotel Settles Worker Complaints with Labor Board

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By Jorge Casuso

September 16, 2019 -- The JW Marriott Le Merigot in Santa Monica last week agreed to pay more than $35,000 in worker bonuses and offered to reinstate a fired worker as part of a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board, union officials announced Monday.

Signed last Tuesday, the settlement, which also rescinds seven disciplines issued to employees, came less than two weeks before hearings were scheduled to begin.

The settlement stems from organizing efforts by Unite HERE Local 11 that led to the hotel's unionization in late 2016.

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Union leaders say the hotel has refused to sign a contract "despite the union’s position that the parties have already reached an agreement."

The company has not admitted wrongdoing but has agreed to resolve the 11 unfair labor practice cases, union officials said.

Le Merigot officials could not be reached for comment by deadline.

The cases settled last week involve alleged unlawful conduct by hotel management spanning from late 2016 to mid 2018.

The complaints by Local 11 were filed after workers voted 27 to 15 in November 2016 to unionize despite what union officials have called "an intense anti-union campaign waged by management."

“After winning the vote for the union, Columbia Sussex (which manages the hotel) began writing up and firing workers at the hotel,” Danielle Wilson, a Local 11 representative, said at the time.

Once the complaints were issued, the newly unionized workers threatened to picket, boycott and strike to protest the alleged retaliation ("Hotel Workers at Santa Monica JW Marriott Threaten to Strike," January 29, 2018).

The agreement signed last week "contains a total of two dozen specific commitments related to the hotel’s compliance with laws protecting workers’ right to organize," union officials said Monday.

Under the settlement agreement, hotel management is required to post a notice that reads:

“WE WILL NOT discipline you or reduce your scheduled work hours because of your union membership or support or for engaging in other protected concerted activities, including discussing your concerns about wages, hours and working conditions with your coworkers.”

Workers welcomed the news they will receive the long-delayed bonuses.

“We’re thrilled to be finally receiving money that should have been paid to us over two years ago,” said Aurelia Gonzalez, a housekeeper at the hotel for 18 years.

“We hope that the company will take the next step of signing the collective bargaining agreement and respecting our voices on the job,” she said.

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