For 75 years, secret-ballot elections have been a cornerstone of American labor laws that protect individual employee rights. Just like all Americans, Hyatt Regency Long Beach employees should be entitled to choose their representation in a fair, government-supervised secret-ballot election.

Currently, Hyatt Regency Long Beach associates continue to endure more than three years of UniteHere’s aggressive campaign to represent them. The union has been acting as if it already represents them, yet Hyatt’s associates have not had an opportunity to decide in a democratic secret-ballot election whether they want union representation or not. I believe the National Labor Relations Board should schedule an election to determine that question, and last week, they did the opposite. The NLRB rejected a petition filed by Hyatt Regency Long Beach requesting that the hotel associates be given the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want the labor union UniteHere as their bargaining representative.

UniteHere, wanting to resolve the unionization question in a way that is the opposite of democratic, is pushing for card-check, which eliminates an employee’s right to a secret-ballot vote. With this approach, employees must indicate their desire to join a union by signing a card under the watch of union representatives, opening the door to coercion and intimidation. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 70 percent of Americans oppose a card-check process.

Hyatt, like most employers, believes in free speech and informed decision-making. The union’s so-called card-check neutrality provision, however, requires Hyatt to remain silent. Only the union may speak. I believe Hyatt’s associates and their families deserve to know all the facts and not just the union’s point of view.

This is only the latest salvo in a battle the union has waged with a great degree of intimidation and aggression. For more than two years, the associates at the Hyatt have been the targets of harassment. UniteHere’s activities have included boycotts, pickets, demands for work-rule changes, employee grievance filings, unwelcome visits to associates’ homes and other intimidating actions – all of which suggest that the union is acting as if they represent the employees already. That can only happen with a vote.

The boycotts and pickets the union is engaging in harm all Long Beach employees and businesses that rely on local travel and tourism. They drag down our recovery from a recession that sank the hospitality industry into one of its worst slumps in decades.

But while the union is acting locally, it is thinking nationally: Its actions in Long Beach and at three other Hyatt properties around the country are part of the union’s national agenda to use card-check to increase membership and dues. In other cities, the union is stalling negotiations where it already represents Hyatt associates, leaving those employees without contracts. Around the country, as in Long Beach, UniteHere is placing its national agenda ahead of our community’s economy and putting Hyatt associates’ jobs at risk for its own financial gain.

Hyatt’s properties around the country are a mix of unionized and nonunionized. They respect their associates’ decisions at each hotel and have an excellent track record worldwide in making every Hyatt a great place both to work and stay.

I call on UniteHere to join Hyatt in seeking the NLRB’s assistance with these elections. The hotel’s associates deserve the opportunity to cast a vote in privacy and with dignity – a vote that is dictated by their conscience, not pressured by union scrutiny.

Randy Gordon is president and chief executive of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

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