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Collective bargaining agreement ends long-running dispute at Westin Providence Hotel

A lengthy labor dispute between the Westin Providence Hotel and the union that represents its workers has been resolved by a contract agreement between the parties, averting a trial before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge.

The contract, which gradually restores wages and benefits to levels they were at before the dispute, was overwhelmingly ratified by members of UNITE-HERE Local 217 on February 15. As a result, union officials yesterday withdrew all NLRB charges.

“I am pleased that the parties were able to reach a mutually satisfactory settlement of the issues facing them without the need for a lengthy trial and the delays that are inherent in litigation,” said Rosemary Pye, director of the NLRB’s regional office in Boston. “It is significant that the term of the new collective bargaining agreement is for three years, which will enable the employer and the union to build a strong base for future labor relations.”

The 564-room hotel in downtown Providence, Rhode Island tconnects to both the Rhode Island Convention Center and the Providence Place Mall.  The previous collective-bargaining agreement covering the hotel's housekeeping, room service, laundry, bell, valet, and front-desk employees expired on October 31, 2009. Following some negotiations, the hotel declared impasse and imposed new terms and conditions of employment, which included cutting wages and benefits and subcontracting out some union jobs.

Following an investigation, the regional office issued a complaint against the Westin in July 2010, alleging that it had discriminated against employees in retaliation for their support of the Union, had failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the Union, and imposed new terms and conditions of employment without bargaining with the Union.

The parties' new labor agreement will gradually restore a 20 percent pay cut and reduce employees' share of health insurance premiums from 35 percent to 20 percent.  In addition, about half of the 54 employees who were laid off last year due to subcontracting will return to work.  Money has also been set aside to reimburse employees for a portion of their lost wages and for severance pay, and a bonus and profit-sharing structure will be implemented once the hotel returns to profitability.  The parties further agreed to several improvements in employee benefits.

The National Labor Relations Board enforces the National Labor Relations Act, a statute giving employees the right to form, join, or assist unions or engage in protected activities, or to refrain from such activities.

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