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Claremont Resort challenges union

By Devona Walker, Daily Planet Staff
Thursday April 11, 2002

After months of negotiating with Local 2850 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, the Claremont Spa is lashing out, alleging that the union has deliberately stalled negotiations. 

A complaint was lodged at the National Labor Relations Board against Local 2850 on Friday, claiming that the union was in violation of the act that requires both the employer and the labor union to engage in good faith collective bargaining.  

“The Claremont Resort & Spa takes issues that affect our employees very seriously,” said Todd Shallan, vice president and general manager of the Claremont. “We have been bargaining in good faith for more than eight months now, and it’s important to our employees that we reach an agreement in a reasonable period of time. We can’t negotiate a deal if the union won’t come to the bargaining table.” 

But union representatives have stated that the recent attack by the Claremont is just a sad and desperate attempt to throw mud and distract attention away from the some 30 issues that the national board will be investigating at the hotel. 

“The Claremont is facing a major complaint being issued against them by the National Labor Relations Board,” said Stephanie Ruby of Local 2850. “The labor board has been investigating the Claremont about their policy of interrogating employees about union activities. And the board has been preparing to issue a pretty major complaint against the union. 

“I think what the Claremont is trying to do is kick up some dust to distract attention away from the fact that they are going to be depicted as a clear law-breaker when they finish investigating them on the national level.” 

Ruby went onto say that the union has been engaging in good faith negotiations with the Claremont. Negotiations took place as recently as last week, she said. Further negotiations will begin as soon as Friday. 

“We have continued to engage in negotiations despite insulting offers of penny raises and health care cost of $300 per month.” 


In a memo dated in March and signed by Shallan, union representatives and the Claremont bargaining unit agreed to a specific number of negotiation dates. The Claremont has categorically denied that their complaint against the union has anything to do with complaints levied against them the by the NLRB. 


“We hoped that mediation might move the parties closer together, but they refused— again and again,” Shallan said. “We’re looking for solutions. We want to get this resolved.” 

Another complaint that Claremont has lodged against the union is that they have refused to allow a mediator into the negotiation room. 

In response, Ruby stated that the union used a mediator in the past when dealing with management at the Oakland Hilton, but added that mediators only work when the two parties are close to coming to an agreement. 

According to Ruby, a mediator would not assist in negotiations at this point because the two parties are too far away from any middle ground. 

“I really think that the Claremont should stop pretending they are a victim here and take responsibility for their illegal conduct and the continue working with us to hammer out this contract for their hard-working employees,” Ruby added.  

For more than three years Claremont has had an agreement with Local 2850 to represent approximately 200 of the spa’s food and beverage employees. That contract expired in January and the Claremont charges that the union has refused to renew it and have been causing those 200 workers to work without a contract ever since. 

Local 2850 and food and beverage employees, in showing solidarity with union workers, have pushed contract negotiations to a back burner until the Claremont deals with the issue of allowing the remaining workforce at the spa to unionize. The detail that seems to stick in the craw of both parties is whether the union will be allowed in by a card check method or by a standard vote-in procedure. The Claremont is pushing for the vote-in method but union representatives have argued that that would allow for an environment of continued corporate intimidation.