Michael Sainato has an important new article out in The Guardian. In it, Sainato reports that the management of the Fairmont Hotel in Sonoma, California has hired anti-union consultants to prevent workers from forming a union. Workers have alleged the consultants engaged in illegal tactics to intimidate and harass employees, including threatening to fire workers who support the union. In response, the workers have filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which has launched an investigation into the matter. The use of anti-union consultants is becoming increasingly common in the United States, particularly in industries such as hospitality and healthcare. These consultants often use aggressive tactics to prevent workers from organizing and bargaining collectively for improved wages and working conditions.
What we learned after conducting our own research
We wanted to learn more about this union busting campaign and who the Sonoma Fairmont hired to infringe on workers' rights, so we got to work reviewing a number of records and disclosures we've compiled.
According to U.S. Department of labor filings, the Sonoma Fairmont contracted Quest Consulting, a fairly prominent union busting firm, to manage their anti-worker campaign back in November of 2022. Quest Consulting then brought on at least 6 additional anti-union "persuaders." It's important to note that the work began in November of 2022, because it appears that Quest Consulting did not file paperwork with the U.S. Department of Labor until March of this year. That is a violation of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, a law that stipulates union-busting arrangements must be disclosed within 30 days to ensure workers have all the information they are entitled to. In fact, according to LaborLab's most recent scorecard, Quest Consulting has a 100% record of violating these disclosure laws.
At the time of this report, neither Sonoma Fairmont nor Quest Consulting have disclosed how much is being spent on the anti-union campaign. Quest Consulting is getting around disclosing that information by claiming no payments have been made because the work is currently "ongoing," which means workers aren't being told how much their employer is spending to beat back a union.
It also appears as though Quest Consulting and Sonoma Fairmont have failed to file the terms of their agreement. Another violation of disclosure rules.
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In 2022, Quest Consulting was also hired by companies like Amy's Kitchen, Boca Raton Resort, Ross, Schoolhouse Electric, and about another dozen businesses to conduct anti-union "persuasion." In 2022, Quest Consulting made at least $2,509,105 to union bust. You can view the entire list and how much Quest Consulting gets paid here.The consulting firm also received the attention of Northwest Labor News in January.
According to Quest Consulting's (late) disclosures, the Las Vegas-based company run by a Jessica Thomas, hired at least six other California-based union busters to interact face-to-face with hotel workers. Those consultants were Luis Camarena of LKLS Consulting; Eduardo Padilla and Alex Rique of Libra Management Consulting; Jaime Brambilla; and Jeanette Medizabel and Luz Slim of Lighto Labor. None of these firms have yet to disclose how much they were paid to harass and intimidate workers.
Since at least November of 2022, Sanoma Workers have been harassed simply for trying to exercise their fundamental right to form a union with UNITE HERE! Local 2. Not only that, but the consultants hired to do the dirty work have shown utter contempt for the law and workers' right to critically important information.
Published April 22, 2023