Author of www.HotelLawBlog.com
14 November 2006
Hotel Lawyer on hotel labor and employment issues. Yesterday, I discussed the record jury verdict against Unite Here in the Sutter Health case where a Superior Court jury in rural Placer County California found Unite Here guilty of “fraud, malice or oppression.” The jury hit the union with a $17.3 million verdict for intentionally and maliciously acting to harm the business of the Sutter Health not-for-profit hospitals and birthing clinics. As usual, I looked to Marta Fernandez, my hotel labor attorney partner, for insight and guidance. Yesterday, she gave us 9 points to think about as to the significance of the case — what it all means. But she saved some real gems for today’s short blast. Here they are.
The facts of Sutter Health.
I will not repeat the details here. One telling is enough. See the posting on Sutter Health for all the background, positioning and outcome. It is an awesome tale.
The bottom line — what this all means.
I also tapped Marta for her insights on the significance of the case. In my last posting she had several points about the jury verdict and 9 points as to what this all means. See Sutter Health. If you missed these, they are worth going back to, or you may even want to subscribe to www.HotelLawBlog.com (It’s free).
It is time to turn the tables!
In addition to the points noted earlier, Marta Fernandez tells us that the Sutter Health case is interesting from several perspectives :
First, the union’s actions in attempting to interfere with Sutter’s business because of its real dispute with a third party vendor may be considered “secondary boycott activity” which itself is unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act.
Marta says, “We have seen these pressure tactics used by Unite Here as well as other unions, such as the Carpenters Union when the contractor working on a hotel remodel for example does not use union labor and the union attempts to interfere with the hotel’s business by claiming it has a ‘labor dispute’ with the hotel when in fact its real gripe is with the contractor.”
Where a union engages in secondary boycott activity, the employer may bring unfair labor practice charges against the union before the NLRB.
Second, in pursuing a damages remedy in court under a defamation theory (for which they were ultimately very successful), Sutter was taking a real chance that it would not get very far as Courts have traditionally given unions great deference in the exercise of speech rights during labor disputes.
The fact that a Court permitted the case to get to the jury and that a significant damages award was entered against the union signifies that the tables do turn on unions and that there are many ways employers can fight back when a union engages in over the top tactics against an employer.
Bringing civil actions against the union for such torts as trespass, assault and battery, interference with contractual relations, invasion of privacy and, as in this case, defamation can be a very effective weapon in fighting union battles.
Experienced labor management lawyers know that the best way to gain leverage over the union is to turn the tables and make the union defend its actions in several arenas, as appropriate. Sutter Health gives encouragement that unions are not above the law, and is another area in which we can make unions accountable for their often outrageous behavior. See below for Marta’s biographical and contact information.
Marta Fernandez is a senior member of the Global Hospitality Group® and a partner in the Firm’s Labor & Employment Group. A management labor lawyer with more than 20 years’ experience, Marta specializes in representing hospitality industry clients in all aspects of labor and employment, including labor-management relations such as union prevention, collective bargaining for single as well as multi-employer bargaining units, neutrality agreements and defense of unfair labor practice charges before the NLRB; implementation of preventative management strategies, such as executive training, arbitration enforcement and policies and procedures; defense of administrative and litigation claims, such as employee claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. For more information please contact Marta Fernandez at 310.201.3534 or MFernandez@JMBM.com.
Our Perspective. We represent developers, owners and lenders. We have helped our clients as business and legal advisors on more than $87 billion of hotel transactions, involving more than 3,900 properties all over the world. For more information, please contact Jim Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310.201.3526.
Jim Butler is one of the top hotel lawyers in the world. GOOGLE “hotel lawyer” or “hotel mixed-use” or “condo hotel lawyer” and you will see why.
Jim devotes 100% of his practice to hospitality, representing hotel owners, developers and lenders. Jim leads JMBM’s Global Hospitality Group® — a team of 50 seasoned professionals with more than $87 billion of hotel transactional experience, involving more than 3,900 properties located around the globe.
Jim and his team are more than “just” great hotel lawyers. They are also hospitality consultants and business advisors. They are deal makers. They can help find the right operator or capital provider. They know who to call and how to reach them. They are a major gateway of hotel finance, facilitating the flow of capital with their legal skill, hospitality industry knowledge and ability to find the right “fit” for all parts of the capital stack. Because they are part of the very fabric of the hotel industry, they are able to help clients identify key business goals, assemble the right team, strategize the approach to optimize value and then get the deal done.
Jim is frequently quoted as an expert on hotel issues by national and industry publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and Hotel Business. A frequent author and speaker, Jim’s books, articles and many expert panel presentations cover topics reflecting his practice, including hotel and hotel-mixed use investment and development, negotiating, re-negotiating or terminating hotel management agreements, acquisition and sale of hospitality properties, hotel finance, complex joint venture and entity structure matters, workouts, as well as many operating and strategic issues.
Jim Butler is a Founding Partner of Jeffer, Mangels, Butler & Marmaro LLP and he is Chairman of the firm’s Global Hospitality Group®. If you would like to discuss any hospitality or condo hotel matters, Jim would like to hear from you. Contact him at email@example.com or 310.201.3526. For his views on current industry issues, visit www.HotelLawBlog.com.