New Orleans May Go to Bat for Union

The following excerpts are from a Aug. 3, editorial in the Times-Picayune: “No Free Ride for Hotel Union”:


“New Orleans officials shouldn’t try to tell hotel companies how to run their businesses, and they certainly shouldn’t take sides in potential disputes between management and union organizers. Yet the New Orleans City Council is poised to do just that when it takes up a zoning variance for the proposed J.W. Marriott hotel project on Canal Street. Included in the ordinance is a demand for a “labor peace agreement” — an agreement that would force management to accommodate a union organizing drive in some manner.

The council ought to strike that demand and consider the rest of the ordinance on its merits. Existing federal laws govern how employers can react to union organizing campaigns, and there’s no reason New Orleans should require hotel developers to follow different — and less favorable — rules.

…Organizing campaigns can be contentious, even downright nasty, and both management and union representatives are capable of putting heavy pressure on individual employees. That’s why workers should be allowed to make up their minds in private. Federal labor laws provide for secret-ballot elections if at least 30 percent of employees sign cards supporting unionization. But not everyone who signs a card ends up voting to create a union, and organizers often lose support once the campaign starts.

That may be why organizers are pushing for labor peace agreements that avoid secret-ballot elections and certify a union if a majority of employees sign cards in support of it. According to [New Orleans City Councilman Mark Carter, an agreement between organizers and Marriott would include such a “card- check” provision.

…Truth is, labor peace agreements don’t give companies much in exchange for their concessions. Union organizers generally promise not to disrupt business with pickets, strikes or boycotts during an organizing drive. That isn’t peace. It’s a protection racket.

…If hotel companies and unions want to agree of their own volition on ground rules for organizing drives, then so be it. The city government shouldn’t get involved.”