KENTUCKY-BASED COLUMBIA SUSSEX CONTINUES TO HURT ALASKA WORKING FAMILIES
Monday June 3rd Alaskan workers of the Anchorage Hilton met with management and representatives of the Kentucky-based Corporation, Columbia Sussex, who owns the hotel. For five years workers have been fighting for affordable healthcare, safe workloads, job security protections, and reasonable wage increases in the face of out-of-state corporate employers. At Monday’s meeting the corporation again insulted Anchorage workers and refused to provide workers a wage increase for the fifth year in a row.
The Anchorage Hilton at one time was locally owned and was a cornerstone in the Community. It was a place where workers were treated with dignity and respect. Once upon a time, for 30 years, the Hilton was good to its workers and helped make and keep Anchorage a vibrant community. That all changed when Kentucky-based Columbia Sussex bought the hotel and has been driving down Alaskan families and their ability to survive in our great State.
Columbia Sussex, owned by William J. Young III, continues to hurt Alaska middle class families by imposing unsafe workloads on workers at the Anchorage Hilton, especially in housekeeping; a profession with higher injury rates than coal miners. Cuts to healthcare coverage of workers and increasing employee contributions further burdens Alaska workers. This five year wage increase refusal is yet another blow to Alaskan workers and their ability to provide for their families.
Anchorage Hilton workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 878, have been attempting to negotiate with their employer, Columbia Sussex, since July of 2008. These Alaskan workers have simply been asking to maintain the same working conditions and benefits listed in their long expired contract which guaranteed safe workloads, job security protections, regular wage increases, and affordable family medical insurance. In May of 2009, Hilton workers overwhelmingly voted to place a boycott on their hotel. Workers are asking potential guests, and fellow Alaskans, to support their fight by not eating, sleeping, or attending meetings/events the outside-owned Anchorage Hilton until the boycott is over.
On April 24, 2013, the three-person Board that governs the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, the federal labor law that governs most private-sector workers, issued its Decision and Order in a federal case brought by that agency against Texas-based Remington Lodging & Hospitality (“Remington”), the corporation that operates the Sheraton Hotel & Spa in Anchorage. The case stems from a long-running dispute between the Sheraton and its workers’ union, UNITE HERE Local 878.
In its ruling, the NLRB found that that Remington has committed numerous unfair labor practices against both the union and its workers, including (but not limited to) (1) in October of 2009, unlawfully imposing new requirements that housekeepers clean 17 rooms per shift, that employees clock in and out for lunch, and that employees who eat the food prepared in the cafeteria pay $1 for the meal; (2) in May of 2010, unlawfully taking away from the workers the Union health benefits plan; (3) unlawfully firing four workers and unlawfully disciplining many others for engaging in activities in support of their union; (4) maintaining and enforcing eight unlawful rules in its employee handbook; and (5) unlawfully withdrawing recognition from the Union as the bargaining representative of the workers based on signatures on a petition that Remington unlawfully obtained through threats and promises.
Remington now has to make all of the workers whole for all wages, benefits, and health care costs they lost or incurred as a result of these unlawful acts, plus interest, and (upon the Union’s request) return to the bargaining table and negotiate a new labor agreement with the Union.
Since 2009, Sheraton workers have been struggling to protect their benefits, their working conditions and their union from the employer’s egregious assaults. To date, this high-profile labor dispute has been marked by the filing of over 40 unfair labor practice charges, two lengthy NLRB hearings (the first one of which has just resulted in the Decision and Order discussed above), with a third hearing scheduled for mid-July, two meritless federal lawsuits filed by the hotel (one against the Union, one against the NLRB itself), an ongoing boycott, frequent picket lines and an overwhelming amount of Anchorage community support. While workers are pleased with this new Board ruling in their favor, they want to remind the public that their struggle is not over and that they continue to ask the community to boycott the Sheraton until the dispute is resolved.
A copy of the complete text of the Decision and Order in this case, Remington Lodging & Hospitality, LLC, d/b/a The Sheraton Anchorage v. UNITE HERE! Local 878, AFL-CIO, 359 NLRB No. 95 (2013), can be found on-line at http://www.nlrb.gov/cases-decisions/board-decisions.
“Thank you for joining us today in front of the rat, Remington, as we continue the good fight on behalf of the employees of this hotel and ALL Alaskans. We are making a difference, demanding fairness and respect in the workplace.
Please continue with the message and let our voices be heard. One day we will stand here united with a signed contract.
Until then, Remington knows, ‘We will be back!'”
-Fay – Sheraton Banquet Server since 1988
“We call upon this place of business to repent and be redeemed, to turn from selfish and greedy ways to a way of business that benefits all – guests, workers, managers, corporate executives and investors.
I stand and speak to remind us all that the choices we make and the actions we take in this life, on this earth, are of ultimate concern. The way we live—as individuals, families, businesses, societies and nations—matters to God. God cares. God cares, intensely, about justice and righteousness in the workplace. God judges the unjust; God judges the greedy corporate executives and business managers who treat their employees unjustly. The Word of God calls out:
Do not heap up for yourselves piles of profits to satisfy your greed; rather, hear and heed
the voice of the prophets who speak the truth of God’s reign of justice for all.
We call upon this place of business to repent and be redeemed, to turn from selfish and greedy ways to a way of business that benefits all –investors, corporate executives, managers, workers, and guests.” – Pastor Petersen at the boycott Hilton vigil
Counting Votes in Arizona
Election night wasn’t the end for Arizona voters. Over 600,000 votes weren’t counted statewide on November 6th and the days following saw demands from voters to count EVERY vote, including provisional ballots. Here’s the link to learn more Rachel Maddow \’Votes Please\’
Supporting Labor in Alaska
Texas-owned & managed Sheraton is not above the law!
Treat workers with dignity!
Respect Alaska job standards!
Settle Unfair Labor Practices Now!
Stop the appeals!
BOYCOTT SHERATON ANCHORAGE