The Oregon Convention Center Hotel: paying off the unions

Ask any informed person without a vested interest in the proposed Oregon Convention Center Hotel whether they think it will be a fiasco and you’re likely to get a loud and clear, “Yep!”

But public opinion has little to do with whether the hotel will get built. The fix is in, with Metro, liberal politicians and labor unions joined at the hip.

Metro Council President Tom Hughes, the hotel’s principal cheerleader, was first elected to Metro in 2010 with the strong support of labor organizations; they continued that support in his successful 2014 race.

“I want to build a hotel,” Hughes once told union workers. “I want it to be built by union workers, and I want union workers running it.”

unite here

Portland has just three union-operated hotels, all organized by Unite Here Local 8: the Benson; the Paramount; and the Portland Hilton Hotel and Executive Tower.

The unions got their first break on the Convention Center project when Metro mandated that the hotel be built by union building trades.

Prospective developers were also told to bid the privately-owned and operated project under union-supported prevailing wage guidelines where wages are set artificially high above the market.

Metro stacked the deck in favor of the unions again when the Council required that Hyatt sign a labor peace agreement with Unite Here before Metro would begin negotiating the details of the project. Hyatt, long a non-union hotel chain, subsequently agreed to a national labor peace agreement with Unite Here.

Metro also gave unions an edge in organizing the eventual hotel workers by requiring that they use a voting process despised by employers and many workers called card check. Under card check, instead of holding a federally-supervised secret ballot election, workers get to vote under the watchful eyes of union organizers, Lucky them.

Once a majority of employees have signed cards, the union is immediately recognized.

As the AFL-CIO’s Southeastern Oregon Central Labor Council put it, the hotel workers “…will come into a workplace where their management has promised to leave any decisions to the workers without wasting money on deceiving anti-union campaigns.”

Yep, folks, the fix is in.

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