Trump violates federal labor law, refuses to negotiate with his Vegas workers’ union

The National Labor Relations Board ruling against Trump comes in the final days of the presidential election.

Activists holding a puppet likeness of Donald Trump picket outside the non-union hotel hosting Tuesday night’s GOP debate. CREDIT: Alice Ollstein
Activists holding a puppet likeness of Donald Trump picket outside the non-union hotel hosting Tuesday night’s GOP debate. CREDIT: Alice Ollstein

As Donald Trump makes his final pitch to U.S. voters — calling himself “financially brave” and promising “law and order, balanced with justice and fairness” — he faces new charges that he violated the federal labor rights of his own employees.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday night that Trump has been illegally refusing to bargain with the 500-odd employees at the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas. They officially unionized earlier this year.

“We find that the Respondent’s conduct constitutes an unlawful failure and refusal to recognize and bargain with the Union,” the NLRB wrote.

The board ordered Trump to immediately recognized the workers’ union and begin bargaining a contract with them, and said he must post notices in the hotel itself admitting the violation.

“Mr. Trump should accept the federal government’s order to negotiate and treat his workers with respect,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, the Secretary-Treasurer of union that represents the workers. “Mr. Trump is breaking federal law and Trump Hotel Las Vegas is operating illegally.”

“Mr. Trump is breaking federal law and Trump Hotel Las Vegas is operating illegally.”

Trump has fought his Vegas’ workers union every step of the way for the last two years.

As they began organizing last year, he hired the “union avoidance” consulting firm Lupe Cruz and Associates. That company, which has busted union campaigns at American Apparel, the trucking company Conway, and some Hilton hotels, boasts on its website that it can help clients in “preserving a union free work place.”

Workers at the hotel told ThinkProgress they were forced to have meetings with Lupe Cruz representatives, who tried to talk them out of organizing.

“They intimidated us a lot,” Trump hotel housekeeper Marisela Olvera said. “They pressured us a lot [to vote no]. They told us the union only wants our money, that if we supported the union we’d lose our jobs, that the company would put our names on a blacklist and no other hotels in Las Vegas would hire us. They told us to think of what our children would do if we were out of work. Everyone was very stressed. People were afraid.”

Even after the union won their election, Trump refused to recognize the results. His company also illegally retaliated against two of the workers who led the organizing effort, by firing one and denying a promotion to another. He was forced to rehire the former and pay both back-wages, and pay a fine of more than $11,000.

The workers at the Trump International Hotel — more than 80 percent of whom are immigrants and more than 50 percent of whom are women — make $3 an hour less than most Las Vegas hotel employees. Another housekeeper, Maria Jaramillo, told ThinkProgress in February that the poor benefits package also pushed them to unionize.

“We don’t get an [annual] raise, we have to pay for our [health] insurance, and we have no retirement,” she explained. “I’m not making enough to give my kids a better future.”

For the last few months, some of the hotel workers have been following Trump on his campaign trips around the country to try to pressure and shame him into coming to the bargaining table.

“He says he wants to make America great,” Olvera told ThinkProgress in Spanish. “Well, he should start here in his own house, his own business.”