By LARRY KANTER
Calling a recent complaint by the National Labor Relations Board "preposterous," officials from the Miramar Sheraton hotel are digging in for a drawn-out fight with Local 814 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union.
In a complaint issued two weeks ago, the NLRB alleged that the Miramar unfairly gave pay raises to two anti-union workers and asked that management compensate 228 other union employees with back wages a remedy that could cost the hotel as much $1.8 million, according to union organizers.
The complaint will be decided by a federal administrative law judge at a hearing scheduled to begin Nov. 30.
"The remedy is incredible," said Kurt Petersen, an organizer with Local 814. "They'll be the best-paid hotel workers in Los Angeles."
The hotel's attorney, Joseph E. Herman, said that the board overstepped its authority in asking for the pay raises and predicted that the complaint would be overturned this fall.
"We are confident it will be dismissed," Herman said. "The hotel's position will be sustained and the monetary remedy will not be issued."
The NLRB complaint is the latest wrinkle in a three-year battle between the hotel and the union. Last October, employees at the hotel voted by a narrow margin to decertify Local 814, which has been representing workers at the facility the only unionized hotel in Santa Monica for decades.
The union is contesting the vote before the NLRB, which is expected to rule on the matter next month. Meanwhile, the union remains the employees' bargaining agent and representative.
The NLRB complaint alleges that the hotel granted pay raises of $2.50 and $3.50 an hour to two cashiers "to encourage (the employees') anti-union efforts, and in order to discourage other employees from supporting the union" an action the board claims violates the National Labor Relations Act.
The board asks that the hotel rescind those increases and grant retroactive pay increases to 228 other employees which would cost the hotel $8,000 per worker, according to Petersen.
Following the hearing on the matter in November, the losing party will have the opportunity to appeal the decision before NLRB officials in Washington as well as in the U.S. Court of Appeals.
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