Federal Judge Dismisses Suit Against Local Hotel Employees Union

A federal judge has dismissed a suit filed against a local hotel employees union.

Judge H. Russel Holland threw out the Sheraton Hotel’s claim that Unite Here Local 878 actions had cost the hotel thousands in business losses, while upholding the union’s First Amendment rights.

The dispute started almost a year ago, when Sheraton Anchorage hotel filed suit in federal court in Anchorage, charging that Unite Here, the union that represents many of the hotel’s hourly wage employees, had defamed the hotel and cost it more than $638,000 in lost revenue. Unite Here conducted a boycott of the hotel, picketing and urging hotel guests to join the boycott.

Earlier this month, Judge Holland ruled that the union’s actions were protected by the U.S. Constitution and the National Labor Relations Act.

Matt Fennell is a staff worker for Unite Here.

A similar suit filed by the Sheraton against the National Labor Relations Board last year was also dismissed by a federal district court judge.

The union’s unfair labor practice charges against the hotel include the unfair firing of four union leaders, according to Fennell. Unite Here is still awaiting a administrative law judge’s decision on those charges.

Local Sheraton Anchorage hotel management had no comment on the issue. Texas-based Ashford TRS Nickel LLC owns and operates the Anchorage hotel. The company’s attorney,   Karl Terrell, said in an email that the court committed an error in dismissing its lawsuit against the union.

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APTI Reporter-Producer Ellen Lockyer started her radio career in the late 1980s, after a stint at bush Alaska weekly newspapers, the Copper Valley Views and the Cordova Times. When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Valdez Public Radio station KCHU needed a reporter, and Ellen picked up the microphone. Since then, she has literally traveled the length of the state, from Attu to Eagle and from Barrow to Juneau, covering Alaska stories on the ground for the AK show, Alaska News Nightly, the Alaska Morning News and for Anchorage public radio station, KSKA elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8446 | About Ellen

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