NLRB administrative law judge vindicates ‘Rochester 19’

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An NLRB Administrative Law Judge has ruled in favor of the Rochester Holiday Inn Express workers who were fired a few days before Christmas 2006.

The workers are members of UNITE HERE Local 21.The ruling by Judge Jane Vandeventer supports a March 2007 Labor Board decision that found CPMJ Enterprises in violation of federal labor law by discriminating against union workers after it took over control of the hotel.

The union charged that CPMJ and general manager Mike Bhakta, the new owners of the Holiday Inn Express, unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of the workers’ employment and told employees the new owners did not want union employees.

“We’re very excited and proud of this decision,” said Dave Blanchard, Business Manager of Local 21. “We felt confident early on that we had a strong case. This goes hand in hand with the previous decision by the NLRB.”

Judge Vandeventer’s ruling also supports the original NLRB decision to reinstate the workers with back pay and to require CPMJ to post a notice that it will commit no further labor law violations.

“Having found that Respondent [CPMJ] Enterprises] has engaged in certain unfair labor practices,” she said in her decision, “I shall recommend that Respondent be required to restore the terms and conditions of employment in effect at the time it unlawfully repudiated the collective bargaining agreement and to maintain those terms and conditions in effect unless and until changed through bargaining with the union.”

Local 21 represents more than 2,300 workers in the health care, hospitality and linen supply industries in southeast Minnesota.