Omni Berkshire apologizes for disrespecting union activist

NYHTC — June 07, 2011



On April 8, union representatives demanded and got a public apology from Omni Berkshire Human Resources director Natasha Augustine for behaving rudely and disrespectfully to Rank-and-File Organizer Priscilla Molina.

Molina, a W Union Square public area attendant, was working as an RFO to help turnout members for the recent rally to support the workers at the Boathouse Restaurant. She was in the East 52nd St. hotel distributing flyers for the rally when HR director Augustine interrupted her. Angry that Molina had not requested the manager's permission to talk to union members, Augustine demanded that Molina leave, refusing to even let her gather her belongings from the cafeteria.

Augustine claimed she asked Molina to leave for the "security of the employees."

Molina thought otherwise, saying, "I have visited dozens of hotels while working as an RFO and managers usually understand that union members have rights. Augustine clearly has some kind of personal resentment or insecurity about the union and decided to take it out on me by trying to throw her weight around."

Immediately after hearing about the manager's behavior, Local 6 Business Agent Nick Andrews demanded that Scott Griffith, the hotel's director of operations and Augustine's boss, arrange a meeting for Augustine to apologize. With several union delegates, Molina, and Griffith present, Andrews strongly condemned Augustine's behavior, saying "We are not going to tolerate for a minute your rudeness, your disrespect to any member of this union who works in the hotel or any member of our staff." Both Augustine and Griffith apologized profusely to Molina, Andrews, and all of the union members present. Andrews made it clear that if Augustine's behavior was out of line again, it would be met with much stronger action by the union.

Recently, Augustine got huffy in a grievance meeting when a delegate mentioned that another employee thought it unfair that workers were being laid off when managers were getting raises.

Yvonne Caldeira, a Room Attendant and delegate who has worked at the Omni for over 15 years, said, "Augustine always gets really angry when anyone questions her. She seems to think she has absolute authority over the employees so it's good to remind her that we have the union to back us up."