The chants were no different then they’ve been since the hotel and restaurant workers began union organizing efforts nine months ago.
“Radisson, Radisson, you’re no good/Treat your workers like you should.”
But the group demonstrating in front of the Berkeley Radisson Marina and holding billboards along University Avenue intersections Wednesday had a victory to chant about this time.
Hospitality workers and their community supporters were celebrating last week’s National Labor Relations Board decision to accept 130 of their complaints against the Boykin Management-owned hotel.
“The federal government has said (the hotel) has gone too far,” said Stephanie Ruby, organizer with the Hotel Employee Restaurant Employee Local 2850. “We’re going to prosecute the hotel.”
The NLRB will go to before an administrative judge on Aug. 1 on the workers’ behalf.
Charges include numerous counts of hotel management surveillance of workers trying to unionize, bribery of workers in an attempt to thwart the push to unionization, and harassment.
Radisson Hotel General Manager Brij Misra took the court date in stride.
“That’s what the court system is for,” he said, declining to discuss specific complaints. “We’ll have to abide by whatever the ramifications are.”
The NLRB does not issue these complaints lightly, said JoEllen Marcotte, attorney for the NLRB.
If the court agrees with the NLRB, the workers will get their union.
The complaint concludes that “the unfair labor practices...are so serious and substantial in character that the possibility of erasing the effects of these unfair labor practices and of conducting a fair election by use of the traditional remedies is slight.”
The NLRB is asking the court to consider that the majority of workers have signed cards calling for a union. The workers sentiments would “be better protected by the issuance of a bargaining order than by traditional remedies alone,” the NLRB says.
Among the specific charges made by the workers and supported by the NLRB are allegations of harassment and retaliation for union activities.
“On an unknown date in September 1999, in the kitchen (employees were told) that sometimes hotel employees who want a union are discharged,” one charge notes.
Another complaint says that an employee was told that “none of the (Boykin) hotels had unions and that others had tried to organize a union by (Boykin) had ‘destroyed’ them.”
Further, hotel rules discourage union organizing, including wearing union buttons.
“Other than my nametag, I will not wear any badge, pin, button or decoration without my supervisor’s approval,” says the complaint, quoting from the workers’ handbook.
The Marina Radisson is on the Alameda County Central Labor Committee’s boycott list and is being boycotted by the city of Berkeley.
Hotel management must respond to the complaint within two weeks. The hearing before an administrative judge is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 1 at the Oakland Regional Office of the Board, 1301 Clay St., Room 300N.
“The hotel should just come to the table now, instead of wasting money on high paid lawyers,” Ruby said.