Union alleges Baltimore Marriott Waterfront retaliated against a worker leading organizing effort

Just three months after workers at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel said they would consider unionizing, officials from Unite Here Local 7 said the hotel has retaliated against a ballroom worker who was helping the organizing effort and they have filed a federal complaint.

Unite Here, a union that represents 3,000 hospitality workers in the Baltimore area, said it filed the complaint with the National Labor Relations Board after Alex Dame was suspended on Wednesday.

The union held a press conference Friday to publicize the actions of the Harbor East hotel. A union representative noted that the developer was given millions in subsidies and a $1-a-year property tax rate for 25 years to spur economic development and create jobs.

Tracy Lingo, a spokeswoman for the union, said despite those benefits and the jobs pledge the hotel does not pay a living wage to many workers. She said the hotel has declined to work with the union on a process to establish a union.

If the workers succeed in organizing, Local 7 would represent about 220 of the Baltimore Marriott’s workers, including housekeepers, cooks, restaurant and banquet servers, bartenders and others.

Unite Here reported that more than 4,000 workers at unionized Marriott hotels in Boston, San Francisco and San Jose went on strike this summer as negotiations over improved wages and benefits stalled. Lingo said a strike in Baltimore during the unionization effort is possible.

In the meantime, the local will await a decision on Dame’s case. The NLRB reports that cases take an average of seven to 10 weeks, if no settlement is reached.

Lingo said Dame was told to clean out her locker and not told when she could return. She said Dame was told she had failed to clock out after a shift and then lied about the hours she worked.

Workers told Lingo that the clock uses fingerprints and fails so often that there are forms available. Lingo said Dame logged the hours she recalled working but was told by managers on Wednesday that she had added 20 minutes and would be suspended.

“She’s worked at the hotel for eight years and now doesn’t know when she can return,” Lingo said. “As far as we know, no one else has been suspended for this.”

The hotel’s management did not respond to a request for comment.

The NLRB confirmed the complaint was filed Thursday but did not make the case documents available. If the board finds merit to the complaint, it normally works to facilitate a settlement. It also can issue its own complaint but not assess penalties.

meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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