Buyer Alert: Westin Long Beach hotel subject to wage & hour class action lawsuit, federal ULP charges and international OECD complaint, says UNITE HERE

Contact: Jordan Fein | (312) 576-5048 | jfein [at] unitehere [dot] org

For over two years, the Westin Long Beach hotel has been subject to a labor dispute with the Los Angeles affiliate of UNITE HERE, a labor union representing 270,000 workers across North America. There is no end in sight to the conflict. Private equity manager AEW Capital Management (“AEW”) oversees the hotel on behalf of its owner, the Utah Retirement Systems, according to UNITE HERE.

The Westin is the subject of a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of housekeepers, restaurant workers, and banquet servers, alleging that their employer committed wage-and-hour violations related to missed rest breaks, missed meal breaks, and off-the-clock work, which remains ongoing according to UNITE HERE.

Furthermore, the Westin has engaged in what UNITE HERE has alleged are unfair labor practices, including threatening to reduce workers’ wages if they unionize and making statements implying that employees who supported the Union were not loyal.  In March 2016, a regional office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), issued a complaint pursuant to charges filed by UNITE HERE Local 11. These charges remain pending.

In September 2016, UNITE HERE filed a complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises against Natixis Global Asset Management, of which AEW is a subsidiary. The complaint alleges that the Westin has violated these international business standards by among other actions, failing to perform due diligence in order to avoid and address adverse impacts affecting the Westin’s workers resulting from violations of both domestic law and the OECD Guidelines. The complaint also remains pending.

Employees at the Westin are requesting a fair process that allows workers to exercise their right to choose whether to organize in an atmosphere of mutual respect free from management intimidation and harassment, says UNITE HERE.

Other investment managers active in the hospitality industry have demonstrated their ability to manage labor disputes in a way that protects investors from labor disruption while not infringing upon workers' rights, according to UNITE HERE. Click here for a list of those responsible investment managers.

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