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Justice Dept. asks Supreme Court to approve decisions of mostly vacant labor board (Click Here)

By: SAM HANANEL
Associated Press
09/29/09

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to let a federal labor board continue working even though three of its five seats are vacant.

The National Labor Relations Board, which resolves conflicts between unions and management, has worked with three vacancies for nearly two years because of political wrangling in the Senate.

Earlier this year, a federal appeals court in Washington said hundreds of decisions issued by the NLRB are invalid because federal law does not permit the board to act without at least three members.

But three other federal appeals courts — in Boston, Chicago and New York — have reached the opposite conclusion. The Justice Department’s petition urges the Supreme Court to resolve the split.

The uncertainty has thrown into question more than 400 decisions that clarified the rules of union organizing or decided whether there was merit to claims of unfair labor practices.

The standoff has also forced the two remaining board members — one Democrat and one Republican — to postpone dealing with more complex cases that could have a wider impact on the workplace.

Democrats refused to fill the empty seats during President George W. Bush’s final year in office, angered over a series of anti-union board rulings and a perception that Bush’s nominees were too pro-business.

Now Republicans have stalled President Barack Obama’s picks for the board after business groups complained that one nominee — former union lawyer Craig Becker — has views that are “out of the mainstream.” Obama’s nominees have been pending since July.

The NLRB has continued to hear cases and issue decisions in which the chairwoman, Democrat Wilma Liebman, and Republican board member Peter Schaumber can agree.

“We continue to believe that our position is correct, and hope that a decision from the high court will bring some finality to these cases,” Liebman said.

Posted by Admin on 09/30 at 10:53 AM
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Fired Hyatt housekeepers vote to reject hotel chain’s job offer (Click Here)

September 28, 2009

By Katie Johnston Chase, Globe Staff

Seventy-seven of the 98 fired Hyatt housekeepers met for two hours today at the Unite Here Local 26 union office and came to the unanimous decision that they would not accept the Hyatt Hotel Corp.‘s offer to place them in jobs with a staffing organization.

“No way Hyatt,” the housekeepers chanted at a press conference across the streets from the Hyatt Regency Boston.

“We want our jobs back, nothing else,” said Lucine Williams, who worked at that downtown Hyatt for nearly 22 years. “We will not accept temp positions that are designed to put others out of work.”

Union president Janice Loux declared an official boycott against the Hyatt, promising to aggressively go after Hyatt’s customers and ask them not to do business with the hotel company. The housekeepers did not belong to the union, which represents local hotel workers.

Responding to public pressure over the firings, on Friday Hyatt offered the housekeepers fired at the three Boston-area Hyatts full-time positions with United Service Companies, a Chicago-based staffing organization that the hotel uses for contract labor at hospitals, hotels, and shopping centers. If they accept one of these jobs, the housekeepers will be guaranteed their Hyatt rate of pay through the end of next year and their Hyatt health care benefits through the end of March. Those who don’t take the jobs will be offered career assistance and receive their Hyatt wages through the end of March or until they find a permanent job.

The Hyatt’s Aug. 31 move to fire the Boston housekeepers, who made about $15 an hour, and replace them with subcontracted workers who make about half as much, sparked an uproar, prompting businesses to cancel conventions and Governor Deval Patrick to threaten a state boycott of the hotel chain if the housekeepers’ jobs weren’t restored. As of late Monday afternoon, Patrick had not yet called off the planned boycott.

Posted by Admin on 09/29 at 12:19 PM
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