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UNITE-HERE is 0 for 2 in its litigation against Anaheim Arena Management (AAM), which runs The Honda Center, over AAM’s decision last year against renewing its contract with Aramark and bring food service in-house. A press release from AAM came over the transom yesterday afternoon announcing “the Orange County Superior Court’s ruling on Friday granting a demurrer without leave to amend on the matter of Gonzalez vs. AAM.”

Translation: AAM wins, UNITE-HERE loses.

More from the AAM release:

“We are extremely pleased by the court’s decision today,” said AAM General Counsel Bernard Schneider. “Throughout this process we’ve remained confident that our actions were permissible under the law and in the best interest of the millions of guests we serve, as well as those who serve our guests. Today’s ruling certainly validates that assertion and brings to a successful end all litigation asserted by the union and former Aramark employees as a result of the termination of the Aramark concession agreement.”

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Judge Frederick Horn’s has granted of UNITE-HERE’s request for temporary restraining order against the Honda Center. However, it is still questionable whether the militant union’s lawsuit will ultimately succeed, given that dubious constitutionality of how the relevant state labor code section was enacted. It was last-minute, non-budgetary amendment that slipped into a budget trailer bill.

Loren Kaye, president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, published a Fox and Hounds Daily column on this issue on June 20. It worth reading the full column, but I’ll excerpt the most directly relevant portions here:

The Constitution forbids it. A unanimous Supreme Court slapped their hands. But when it comes to loading up budget bills with extraneous goodies, the Legislature just can’t resist. Bowing to the demands of their allies in organized labor, the Legislature inserted into a budget trailer bill (Section 48 of Assembly Bill 76) substantive language designed to force a successor employer that provides food and beverage services at the Honda Center in Anaheim to hire the prior contractor’s employees. This mandate has no bearing on the state budget or any state operations. (It’s also lousy policy, but that’s a debate for another day.)

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I posted earlier today about militant union UNITE-HERE Local 11’s lawsuit seeking to force Anaheim Arena Management, operators of the Honda Center, to hire its members.

According to the Voice of OC, a OC Superior Court judge granted a temporary restraining order forcing AAM to put several hundred UNITE-HERE members on the payroll.

Click here to read the TRO. I find it interesting that UNITE-HERE was seeking not only to force AAM to hire its members, but to get rid of non-union food service workers hired since Aramark was released as the food and beverage service vendor. The TRO written by the union order says AAM is “restrained and enjoined from (a) hiring, continuing to employ or scheduling for work any food and beverage service employees to perform work at the Honda Center without first offering employment to, retaining and scheduling for work the individuals who were employed by Aramark Sports and Entertainmment LLC…].

The judge struck “continuing to employ” from the TRO. Still, UNITE-HERE sought to kick those new, non-union hires into the unemployment line to make room for its members on the payroll.

Guaranteed jobs...it works for Cuba!

Guaranteed jobs…it works for Cuba!

Is is right and just for the government to force a private company to offer jobs to specific individuals who were never that company’s employees in the first place?

That’s the question at the heart of the lawsuit filed by UNITE-HERE Local 11, claiming Anaheim Arena Management (which operates the Honda Center) has violated the state’s Displaced Janitors Opportunity Act (DJOC) — or more accurately, the amendment dropped into the law by the legislature this summer that applies only to the Honda Center. This arbitrary, capricious legislation was pushed through by Assembly Speaker John Perez (a union staffer-turned-legislator) at the behest of UNITE-HERE.

If a businesses replaces one janitorial contractor with another, the DJOC forces the new contractor to hire the old contractors employees for at least 60 days. Obviously, this creates a disincentive to change janitorial contractors, and is a significant obstacle to any entrepreneurial soul who might want go from being employee to business owner by starting his or her own janitorial service.

The legislature’s amendment this summer extended that requirement to “every contractor that provides food and beverage services at a publicly owned entertainment venue” that is also located in a state Enterprise Zone. Guess how many venues fall within that definition? Only one: the Honda Center.

So now UNITE-HERE is suing AAM, claiming they are violating this new provision. I’m not sure how it applies to AAM, which isn’t replacing Aramark with another food and beverage contractor but providing that service directly, and the retention requirement of the code applies to contractors and sub-contractors and not the “awarding authority” (which is what AAM is).

But that is a matter for the lawyers and courts to sort  out.

There are deeper issues at stake. One is that the UNITE-HERE amendment to the state labor code is unjust. Everyone was free to apply for food and beverage service jobs with Aramark. AAM offered interviews to everyone who applied. It hired a substantial number of Aramark employees — members of UNITE-HERE Local 11 — who had worked at the Honda Center.

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When a union attempts to organize a work-place, it needs to get a specified percentage of targeted workers (I believe it is 30%) to petition for a unionizing vote, which is conducted by secret ballot.

Allowing workers to vote their preference in secret, free from harassment and intimidation, has become an obstacle to workplace organizing, so a top priority of the union movement is replacing the secret ballot with the “card-check” system.

Card-check does away with the secret ballot. Instead, union organizers go to work on employees to sign cards stating they want to be represented by the union. Once a majority of workers have been, This is done publicly, in full view of their co-workers and union organizers.  Union organizers know exactly who does and who doesn’t support unionization, making workers vulnerable to harassment and intimidation. Anyone who doesn’t think that would happen should attend an Anaheim City Council meeting packed with UNITE-HERE members.

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This also came over the transom, from The Honda Center:

HONDA CENTER TO HIRE MORE THAN 500 EMPLOYEES FOR NEW FOOD AND BEVERAGE COMPANY

Julie Margolin Named Director of Food & Beverage Services
ANAHEIM, Calif. (May 14, 2013) – The Honda Center announced today its plan for hiring more than 500 workers to become part of an industry-leading sports and entertainment organization. Interested parties are urged to go online to www.hondacenter.com to apply for a position and schedule an interview. Thousands of applicants are anticipated and appointments will be confirmed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning immediately.

“After 20 great years of event hospitality, we’re elevating the Honda Center food and beverage program to an even higher level,” said Tim Ryan, President of Honda Center. “Fans should look forward to a new standard of guest service and our new employees can look forward to a dynamic work environment. We’re thrilled to be making these improvements and there couldn’t be a more exciting time to join the Honda Center Team!”

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Guaranteed jobs...it works for Cuba!

Guaranteed jobs…it works for Cuba!

Thus far, UNITE-HERE Local 11 has been trying to spin their dispute with Anaheim Arena Management into an issue of whether their members will continue working at The Honda Center when AAM takes over food service operations from Aramark on July 1.

Judging by the media coverage, the spinning is working. This Voice of OC article from last week is a good example:

Labor unions are increasing pressure on Honda Center management amid concerns that more than 400 workers who serve food and drinks at the Anaheim arena could soon lose their jobs.

Arena management will take control of food service in July, and it isn’t ruling out layoffs.

And by corollary, they haven’t ruled them in, either.

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Don't make us riot!

Don’t make us riot!

The OC Register has a story up about the “feared” loss of food worker jobs at the city-owned Honda Center.First, it’s important to note the “job loss” theme is misleading. What is happening is a change in who is operating the food service: Anaheim Arena Management, which operates the Honda Center for the city, is taking that function over from industry giant Aramark. The food service jobs aren’t going away. Unless Anaheim Arena Management is hiding a secret army of android food service workers, people will be employed to serve food and drinks to Honda Center patrons.

I don’t discount the nervousness felt by individual Honda Center employees who are unsure if they will be kept on after the change in providers. However, no job is guaranteed in this life.

What is upsetting UNITE-HERE Local 11 — and which the OC Register misses — is that when Anaheim Arena Management takes over, food service employees may no longer be dues-paying members of UNITE-HERE, and that impacts Local 11’s financial bottom line.

But whatreally caught my eye in this story was union spokeswoman Leigh Shelton raising the spectre of rioting if things don’t go UNITE-HERE’s way:

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Unite Here protestorsAnaheim Arena Management — which operates the Honda Center for the City of Anaheim — is taking over the food concession from Aramark. That has UNITE-HERE Local 11 worried.

From the union’s website:

Anaheim Arena Management, the company that owns the Honda Center and the Anaheim Ducks,  plans to take over the operation of the stadium’s food concessions from Aramark. But they haven’t assured the Honda Center workers that they will be able to keep their jobs.

The Honda Center employees work hard, and our jobs help us provide our families with stability in a tough economy. You can help by sending a message to the owners of the Ducks that you support the workers.

Click this link to sign the petition!

I suppose that’s one way to look at it.

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