Trump International faces April hearing over labor complaint

The Culinary Workers Union 226 members hold a protest at the Trump International Hotel & Tower to highlight its organizing campaign on caucus day, Tuesday, February 23, 2016.

Donald Trump’s Las Vegas hotel is the subject of a recent federal complaint alleging that the hotel broke the law by promising job opportunities to workers who ditched their support of a union organizing campaign.

The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 announced today that the National Labor Relations Board issued the complaint against the Trump International Hotel in advance of an April 12 hearing. The complaint also alleges that the hotel terminated one employee and disadvantaged another due to their support of the union’s organizing efforts.

Specifically, the complaint alleges that a hotel labor consultant told employees last year that the Culinary would not help them and said “it would be futile for them to select the union as their bargaining representative.” The consultant also guaranteed “job opportunities to transfer to different positions” if workers stopped supporting the union, according to the complaint.

The complaint says those alleged actions mean the hotel “has been interfering with, restraining and coercing” workers exercising rights guaranteed by law.

Furthermore, the labor board’s complaint says the hotel terminated a certain employee and did not transfer another one to a full-time server job because they “formed, joined and assisted the union and engaged in concerted activities.”

In carrying out those alleged actions, the hotel “has been discriminating in regard to the hire or tenure or terms or conditions of employment” of workers and has unlawfully discouraged membership in a labor organization, the complaint says.

Jill Martin, assistant general counsel with the Trump Organization, forcefully denied the claims from the current complaint in an email to VEGAS INC.

“The allegations in the complaint are completely without merit and we look forward to proving that at a hearing,” Martin said in the email. “These baseless allegations will have no impact on our continued efforts to provide a fair election for our valued associates.”

The company has settled two previous complaints, according to the union.

The Trump International has until March 16 to submit a response to the current complaint. An administrative law judge for the board will preside over the hearing in April, at which point the hotel will be able to present testimony in response to the allegations, according to the complaint.

To even get a hearing about such allegations, the union would have had to show the labor board that it had some basis for its claims, according to Ruben Garcia, a professor at UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law with expertise in labor law. Garcia said unions generally have to show that basis by sending in affidavits and witnesses, and the board “won’t do anything” otherwise.

“That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Trump is guilty at this point, but they have gotten a little further than simply saying ‘we alleged all these things happened, and we’re gonna have a factual hearing,” Garcia said.

Trump International workers began organizing in 2014, according to the union, and their efforts heated up when a majority of eligible employees voted to join the union late last year. But the hotel has challenged the election, arguing that it wasn’t a fair process. The Culinary, in turn, has protested outside the hotel and attempted to link its efforts to Donald Trump’s run for president.

Should the hotel decide to negotiate a contract, it would likely ask the union to withdraw the allegations from the most recent labor board complaint, according to Garcia.

“It really is a way to try to put pressure on Trump to make a deal, as (workers) have been doing in various ways,” he said.

To maintain that pressure, some workers are following Donald Trump on the campaign trail. They plan to participate in protests at a Trump campaign rally in Chicago on Friday, according to the union.