New Yorker Hotel workers receive $125,000 from consent award!

Hotel Voice — April 15, 2013

As many members will recall, a recent health and safety case at the New Yorker Hotel resulted in an arbitration consent award that included a $125,000 penalty that was to be paid to the workers. Under the award, the hotel also agreed to have Emilcott Associates, an expert health and safety firm, "perform a comprehensive health and safety assessment of the building, including its facilities, training, equipment, policies, practices and safeguards" and further agreed to implement all recommendations made by the company. The hotel can perform no construction work for the next year without the written permission of Emilcott and must post a bond of $500,000 (five hundred thousand dollars) to comply with the consent award.

The arbitrator's office also retains jurisdiction on any and all matters concerning this award, and, if the hotel violates it, the award itself mandates that the arbitrator may award the hotel's employees liquidated damages in multiples of days' pay depending on the severity of the violation. The money would come from the $500,000 bond posted by the hotel. Any money paid out of the bond to employees for liquidated damages must be replenished by the hotel. In addition, any violation of the award frees the Union of its no strike obligation under article 38 of the contract.

This Union victory did not come without effort. It took two emergency meetings in the lobby of the New Yorker and several arbitration hearings, but in the end the Union was able to force management to obey the contract and safeguard the health and safety of New Yorker employees.

The situation at the New Yorker regarding the hotel's asbestos removal project shows how seriously the Union views matters of health and safety. Hotel Trades Council members at the New Yorker stood determined to defend the contract and its health and safety provisions, and they did so not only for themselves but for all members of the Union. For this, they received a salute from Union President Peter Ward and quite a few members who read about the case in Hotel Voice. Oh, yes, they received one other thing: the $125,000 penalty against the hotel. It was distributed equally among the employees, as seen in the slideshow.