Judge rules Aqua-Aston violated federal law

Judge rules Aqua-Aston violated federal law

Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew workersHonolulu (June 1, 2016) – Aqua-Aston Hospitality executives have been found guilty of violating federal law by threatening and disciplining workers at the Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew.

On May 31, 2016, Administrative Law Judge Mara-Louise Anzalon issued her decision after a 3-day trial addressing four unfair labor practice charges filed by Local 5 against Aqua-Aston. She ruled that:

  • Aqua-Aston unlawfully disciplined two employees for talking about the Union on work time.
  • Gary Ettinger, Executive Vice President of Operations, illegally intimidated and threatened workers in employee meetings.
  • Aqua-Aston illegally threatened to trespass employees for passing out pro-Union leaflets to guests at the Aston Waikiki Beach lobby.

“It’s been tough coming to work when management is threatening and intimidating us. Knowing that we are fighting for our rights keeps me going. I’m happy about this ruling. I hope that management will finally obey the law,” says Tino Fabro, who works in the Aston Waikiki Beach housekeeping department.

Aqua-Aston has been ordered to post notices in both hotels, informing employees that Aqua-Aston violated the National Labor Relations Act and that workers have a right to organize for a fair process to decide whether to unionize, free from intimidation and threats.

Judge Anzalon noted that Aqua-Aston’s witnesses “could not agree on a consistent version of the facts;” General Manager Mark DeMello’s testimony was “forced and rehearsed;” Ettinger’s testimony was “less than fully credible,” with “dismissive denials, sometimes accompanied by laughter…”

Aston Waikiki Beach and Hotel Renew workers have been fighting for a fair process to decide whether to unionize since February 2015. 22 unfair labor practice charges have been filed against Aqua-Aston.

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is owned by Xenia Hotels and Resorts (NYSE:XHR), a recently spun-off affiliate of Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc.

Local 5 represents approximately 11,000 workers throughout Hawaii who work in the hospitality, health care and food service industries and is an affiliate of UNITE HERE, an international union that represents over 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada. For more information, visit www.unitehere5.org.

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Read the Administrative Law Judge’s decision (PDF).