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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hotel ordered to reinstate workers

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

A federal judge yesterday ruled that the owner of the Pacific Beach Hotel must bargain in good faith and recognize its workers' rights to be part of a union.

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A federal judge has ordered the owner and manager of the Pacific Beach Hotel to recognize employee rights to be represented by a union, bargain in good faith, and reinstate five laid-off workers who had been active in union activities.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright yesterday granted a motion for injunctive relief filed by the National Labor Relations Board against HTH Corp., which owns and operates the 837-room Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikīkī. On March 8, Seabright issued a temporary order in favor of the NLRB and yesterday denied an attempt by the hotel to dismiss the order.

The NLRB sought the injunction following a ruling made last September by a federal administrative judge who said the hotel violated employees' rights. Judge James Kennedy ruled in favor of 15 of 16 complaints of unfair labor practices filed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 142 against the hotel.

HTH Corp. appealed Kennedy's decision with the NLRB in Washington which is still pending. In the interim, the Local 142 and NLRB sought to force HTH to follow Kennedy's order and filed for the injunction.

In his 66-page order, Seabright said that Robert "Mick" Minicola, HTH regional vice president, bargained in bad faith and "never had any intention of agreeing to a collective bargaining agreement with the union." Based on the evidence, Seabright said, the hotel likely would fail in its appeal and he granted the injunction.

Until the full NLRB rules, the judge ordered the hotel to resume negotiations with the union, reinstate the five workers, stop coercing employees who take part in union activities, and bargain in good faith. Pacific Beach Hotel has about 385 hourly employees.

Minicola said he will meet with attorneys tomorrow to determine what action to take next. But he said the hotel will continue to pursue its appeal of Judge Kennedy's 2009 decision.

"It's very possible we will follow (Seabright's) order without withdrawing our appeal options that we have with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington," Minicola said. "And there could be a potential appeal with the 9th Circuit that will still be under consideration. But no decision has been reached at this time."

He also said there was a "good possibility" that the hotel will recognize the union and begin bargaining.

The hotel and the union have been embroiled in a labor dispute for nearly five years. Local 142 was certified to represent the workers in August 2005, but has never received a contract with the hotel.