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The GW Hatchet

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WEB EXTRA: Progressive student union gets State Plaza kicked off GW sponsorship

The Admissions Office removed a local hotel from its list of recommended businesses last week due to student complaints.

The National Labor Relations Board convicted the State Plaza Hotel, which is located between E and F streets and 20th and 21st streets, of anti-union behavior last August. The NLRB ordered the hotel’s management to enter union negotiations after the hotel fired the unionization leader, according to court documents.

“A fair appraisal of the evidence shows that (the State Plaza Hotel) resorted to every illicit means to thwart the employees’ union support,” Karl H. Buschmann, administrative law judge for the National Labor Relations Board, wrote in his decision. The board is an independent federal agency created by Congress to administer the National Labor Relations Act, according to its Web site.

Since the court’s decision, the Progressive Student Union, with help from a Student Association resolution, began to question administrators about the State Plaza Hotel’s placement on the list of recommended hotels for Colonials Weekend, an annual event for students, parents and alumni. The Progressive Student Union is a student activist group that lobbies for workers’ rights.

The group’s members handed a copy of the updated list and the SA resolution to the State Plaza management Wednesday afternoon.

“We, as a University, will not condone unlawful activities,” Matthew Brokman, an officer of the Progressive Student Union, said.

Jonathan Greenbaum, a lawyer for the State Plaza Hotel, said the hotel “is now in compliance with all labor laws.”

Brokman said hotel employees approached the group to get the State Plaza removed from the list after the NLRB decision in August.

“(GW’s actions) show the hotel that we will not tolerate their actions, and what they do has economic repercussions,” Brokman said.

Brokman said the time it took to accomplish the removal of the hotel from the list was disappointing.

“It seemed they were simply ignoring me,” he said.

Kathryn Napper, executive dean for Undergraduate Admissions, said it was bad timing. She said her office was flooded with applications when Brokman first made the request.

“To be honest, it is not a priority at this time,” she said. “We’re trying to get a class together.”

She added that her office decided to remove the hotel to meet the SA’s needs even though it has not had a chance to fully investigate the claims. The list is rarely altered and has generally been the same since GW launched its Web site about 15 years ago, she said.

The resolution, sponsored by Student Life Committee Chair Marc Abanto, states that the SA is outraged with “the State Plaza Hotel’s attempts to prevent its employees from unionizing.”

According to documents, hotel employees voted to unionize by a 2-to-1 margin on Sept. 5, 2003. The resolution states employees wished to unionize “in response to working long, difficult shifts without receiving market standard compensation in both pay and benefits.”

The National Labor Relations Board found the hotel guilty of multiple violations in August, including threatening to fire employees for supporting the union and illegally offering a wage increase in exchange for signing a petition to decertify the union. The SA resolution states these violations are the reasons hotel employees are still not protected by a union contract and need support from organizations like GW.

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