An LAX-area hotel operator lost a round in court Wednesday when a judge refused to take action against union organizers who’ve allegedly created a nuisance and violated a city noise ordinance by staging noisy demonstrations to call attention to a labor dispute.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Debre Katz Weintraub — in denying a motion for a preliminary injunction sought by Crowne Plaza Los Angeles against UniteHere! Local 11 — said that before such an order can be issued, management must make every reasonable effort to settle the overall labor dispute.
The judge cited the union’s allegations that hotel management has interfered with Local 11’s efforts to unionize the workers, firing two top leaders of the union organizing staff six days after the workers led a delegation to challenge the hotel’s treatment of union supporters.
The union has been trying to organize the hotel workers since February 2015, according to the Crowne Plaza’s lawsuit filed May 27. In doing so, they have engaged in daily demonstrations that violate the Los Angeles municipal noise regulation, according to a private acoustical consultant hired by the hotel, the suit states.
The union activities initially involved passing out handbills and displaying banners. The union representatives also projected a large bedbug on the hotel’s facade and demanded meetings with hotel management, the suit states.
Up to 40 union members or supporters gather on a sidewalk near the hotel daily to shout such slogans as “get your money back, check out” and “we are in the fight,” according to the lawsuit. Some of the demonstrators have chanted the slogans using a megaphone, and the union members also have used a large drum, dozens of whistles, wooden ratchet noise makers and vuvuzelas, the suit states.
Members of the LAPD Labor Relations Unit have been present for most of the demonstrations, but have not intervened to stop the union activities despite hotel requests to do so, according to the lawsuit.
The suit states that some hotel’s guests checked out early and said they would not return until the demonstrations end, while others asked for and received refunds. The suit also states that some pilots and flight attendants from Southwest Airlines and Air Canada are going to other hotels because the noise disrupts their rest.
But according to the court papers filed by the union’s lawyers, the hotel management “waged an aggressive and unlawful anti-union campaign” after the organizing effort began. Except for two bullhorns, the union stopped using noise makers three weeks before the hotel sued, according to the union’s court papers.
“At no point has (hotel management) made any meaningful effort to negotiate a settlement to the underlying labor dispute,” according to the union lawyers. “Its sole concern has been noise.”
–City News Service
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