A U.S. District Court Judge in Connecticut has ordered the Stamford Plaza Hotel and Conference Center to reinstate 28 employees who were laid off, then rehired by a subcontractor to perform the same work, after they expressed support for a union.
The layoffs occurred just weeks after the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 371, began gathering signatures for a unionization effort in June 2011. The two hotel operations that were subcontracted, housekeeping and maintenance, had demonstrated the strongest level of union support.
The NLRB regional office in Hartford issued a complaint against the hotel, alleging that the subcontracting was an unlawful attempt to disrupt the organizing campaign. The region sought an injunction from the federal court to restore the work situation to what it had been while the case works its way through the NLRB’s process.
In granting the injunction on March 22, Judge Mark R. Kravitz found that the region was likely to prevail and that prompt action was needed to prevent irreparable harm. “Given the timing of the Stamford Plaza’s decision to subcontract, its shifting explanations for that decision, and the testimony that the hotel continues to structure its subcontracting arrangements with the goal of frustrating union activity, the Court easily finds reasonable cause to believe that unfair labor practices have occurred,” the judge wrote. The judge further found that it was “just and proper” to grant the injunction even though the employees had been re-hired by the subcontractors, because “the termination of so many pro-union housekeeping and maintenance employees seems to have frozen, not just chilled, organization efforts at Stamford Plaza.”
In addition to ordering the reinstatement of the employees to the hotel’s payroll until a final decision has been reached in the NLRB case, the judge also ordered the employer to refrain from interrogating employees about their union sympathies or otherwise interfering with their labor rights.