Judge orders Chicago Blackstone Hotel to rehire 14 workers

NYHTC — July 16, 2010

As reported by Crain's Chicago, a federal judge has ruled that management at the Chicago Blackstone Hotel has violated federal labor laws, and must reinstate 14 workers who had been unlawfully terminated.

The rulings were issued on July 7, 2010, by Judge Mark Carissimi, a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge. Carissimi ruled that the Blackstone Hotel broke federal labor law by unilaterally firing 14 room service workers and cutting its employees' health benefits without negotiating with their union.

The judge also ruled that management had violated the workers' right to organize without employer interference by encouraging employees to sign a petition to decertify their union. Blackstone Hotel management had recognized UNITE HERE Local 1 as the workers' bargaining agent through a card check agreement over a year and a half ago, but has since refused to sign a contract with the union.

The judge ordered the hotel to rehire all 14 of the workers they laid off, and pay them back pay for the time they spent out of work. They must also reinstate the workers' health care plan.  Local 1 estimates that the hotel owes its workers at least $250,000 in back pay as a result of this ruling.

The Chicago Sun Times spoke with cook LaMar Johnson, who was unlawfully fired just months after he married his wife, a teacher at a local public school. He believes he was laid off due to his strong support for the union. Johnson says he is "extremely joyful" about the ruling.

ABC News quotes Renee Walker, another of the room service workers who was illegally terminated, saying "I just want a better future for my family. [A]ll I ask is that we be treated fairly and as human beings."