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This Ordinance Has No Merit

August 30, 2006
Editorial By Courant Staff Writer

Len Wolman, owner of the Hartford Marriott Downtown hotel and manager of the Connecticut Convention Center, makes a very persuasive argument that a city ordinance requiring him to sign a so-called labor peace agreement with unions or risk losing his tax breaks is illegal.

Such an agreement, Mr. Wolman maintains in court papers filed last week, would preclude workers from determining their preference for unionization in a traditional secret-ballot election guaranteed by federal labor law.

Unite Here! and the Service Employees International Union, the two labor organizations seeking to recruit employees at the convention center and the hotel, have said that they would accept only a pact that adopts the "card-check neutrality" procedure for union representation.

Thus, Mr. Wolman - or any employer - is in violation of the ordinance if he doesn't agree to the unions' terms. Mayor Eddie A. Perez's contention that the ordinance does not dictate the method for deciding representation is laughable.

The card-check system lets union organizers openly solicit and even coerce workers to sign cards saying they would like to join a union. If more than half of the workers sign the cards, Mr. Wolman must enter into immediate contract negotiations. Not surprisingly, the card-check procedure almost always results in a union victory because the union controls the entire process.

Another preposterous part of the labor peace ordinance is the argument of its advocates that it will protect the city from losses due to labor unrest and work stoppages.

The only labor unrest has been picketing by the city-supported unions in their attempts to pressure Mr. Wolman into accepting a card-check election. The picketing or threats to do so have caused the cancellation of 14 convention center events that would have brought considerable revenue to Hartford. The labor unrest has hurt workers, Hartford's image and the convention center's viability.

Many hotel and convention center employees are displeased by Unite Here! and SEIU's hardball tactics. About 30 workers recently delivered a petition to the mayor blaming the unions for the loss of thousands of dollars in salary and tips. Mr. Perez then persuaded the unions to suspend their activities until the courts rule on whether the labor peace ordinance is enforceable.

We hope it's thrown out. It is both anti-business and anti-worker and it denies workers and management the opportunity to have a fair union election under federal rules.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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