Judge rules Blackstone Hotel violated labor laws

By Kathy Bergen
Posted July 7, 2010 at 9:58 a.m.

The owners of the historic Blackstone Hotel violated federal labor laws by unilaterally laying off 14 room-service employees and cutting health care benefits, an administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board has ruled.

The ruling by Judge Mark Carissimi also found the owners, including Denver-based Sage Hospitality Resources LLC, broke laws protecting union activity by asking employees to sign a petition to decertify the union.

The owners were ordered to offer reinstatement to the 14 workers laid off last year and to return to its previous health-care plan. They also were ordered to reimburse employees for lost wages and benefits—a sum the employees’ union estimates to be at least $250,000.
The June 29 ruling “affirmed the problems we’ve been struggling with,” said Annemarie Strassel, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 1, the union that represents about 200 of the hotel’s workers. It has scheduled a press conference about the ruling for Thursday morning.

The ruling was first reported online by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Norman Buchsbaum, a Baltimore attorney representing the owners, said they are reviewing the 80-page ruling. No decision has been made yet on whether they will appeal, he said, declining further comment.

The 332-room hotel, a Renaissance property at 636 S. Michigan Ave., reopened in 2008 after an extensive renovation by Sage.  The ruling comes as negotiations continue for a first contract for Blackstone workers.

Unite Here also is negotiating contracts with other downtown Chicago hotels, which together employ about 6,500 unionized workers. Those contracts expired last August.

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  1. Anne July 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Obama care will soon make health care free for everyone very soon. It alsready is if you are illegal.

  2. robert g July 8, 2010 at 7:26 a.m.

    another out of touch liberal judge that should leave the bench. disband the unions, their usefulness has diminished