Honolulu hotel group found guilty of federal labor violations

A Honolulu-based hotel management company has been found guilty of violating federal law.

The ruling addresses unfair labor practice charges filed by UNITE HERE! Local 5 union against Aqua-Aston Hospitality, which manages Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew, among others.

According to the judge’s decision, the company unlawfully disciplined two employees for talking about the union on work time, a hotel executive illegally intimidated and threatened workers in employee meetings, and the company illegally threatened workers for passing out pro-union leaflets to guests.

Aqua-Aston has been ordered to post notices of the violations in both hotels.

“We just want a fair process from management, because with the fair process, we want to be recognized as workers and as people as well,” said guest services agent Jonathan Ching. “To win that is a big thing for our property and our employees because it shows that we’re right in what we’re doing versus what management is doing to us.”

Aqua-Aston says it plans to appeal the ruling. It provided the following statement:

“Aqua-Aston Hospitality has a proud legacy as a top employer in Hawaii, and is committed to providing a work environment in which our team members are free to exercise their legal rights under federal labor law. These rights include the right to decide in a secret ballot election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) whether to pay for a union. A secret ballot election is the fairest process for our employees and is the process prescribed by federal law. We recently filed a petition for an election in order to enable our employees to vote in a secret ballot election conducted by the NLRB as provided under Federal law, and UNITE HERE! Local 5 refused to consent to an election. While we are pleased that the NLRB dismissed the most significant alleged unfair labor practice charge (which asserted that the company improperly discharged an employee), we strongly disagree with the ruling on the remaining charges and intend to file an appeal.”

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