Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Trade Hotel Union Files Charges for Labor Law Violations

Complaints allege company barred pro-union communications. NLRB will investigate.

By - May 20th, 2024 03:25 pm

The Trade Hotel. Photo take May 13, 2023 by Jeramey Jannene.

Workers at The Trade Hotel attempting to organize a union filed charges for unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The workers are organizing with the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH), which announced Monday that the organization filed complaints alleging violations of federal labor law. The union alleges NCG tried to prohibit them from talking about unionization, and removed pro-union materials and communications from the workplace.

“Despite these unlawful policies, Trade Hotel Workers were able to secure a clear, strong majority of their co-workers signatures on union authorization/membership cards during the union organizing drive phase,” MASH said in a statement Monday.

MASH announced Friday that workers had demanded recognition from NCG Hospitality, a hotel management and development company based in Madison. MASH represents more than 1,000 service and hospitality workers at the Fiserv Forum, in the Deer District and at Pabst Theater Group venues.

Alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act are investigated by agents of the NLRB. If the allegations are discovered to have merit and a settlement is not reached between the two parties the complaint will go before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge.

The workers at The Trade allege that NCG Hospitality management attempted to forbid employees from discussing union rights and gathering union authorization cards, according to MASH. They further allege that these attempts to stifle pro-union communication among employees also included banning off-duty employees from talking with their co-workers in non-working areas of the hotel.

The company allowed employees to post materials to a bulletin board in the workplace, but when pro-union material was posted NCG Hospitality management removed it from the board, the union alleges.

Another example of “even more egregious anti-union discrimination,” according to MASH, occurred on Friday after the campaign went public. The company circulated a letter to workers indicating management’s opposition to a union, and, when employees posted a response to the letter on the board, it was removed.

The workers are demanding recognition of their union under a relatively new organizing framework, which was established by the NLRB in a 2023 decision called the Cemex decision. The decision holds employers must recognize a union if a majority of workers have signed authorization cards, or file for an NLRB election. And if the employer is found to have committed any unfair labor practices between the petition for the election and the vote, the results of the election are voided and the NLRB will order the employer to recognize the union.

A “strong majority” of workers in the bargaining unit — approximately 80 workers — at The Trade Hotel have signed union authorization cards, according to MASH.

Response from NCG Hospitality

After publication, NCG Hospitality responded to Urban Milwaukee, disputing the allegations of unfair labor practices.

“NCG Hospitality firmly believes in upholding employee rights,” said Katie Marron, vice president of Branding and Communications. “It has not and will not interfere with the right to unionize.”

NCG Hospitality officials do not believe the companies handbook is in violation of federal labor law, Marron said.

“The Handbook defines employees are permitted to talk about any topic, including the union, in non-work areas on non-work time,” Marron said. “Additionally, union materials were not removed from non-work related bulletin boards.”

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Categories: Business, MKE County

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