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Loews Santa Monica Settles Federal Labor Charges

August 10, 2000|NANCY CLEELAND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, embroiled in a labor dispute that has spilled over to next week's Democratic National Convention, has promised in writing to refrain from a series of illegal activities in order to settle federal charges of unfair labor practices.

In a settlement released Wednesday, the hotel agreed to post two pages of conditions on an employee bulletin board, including promises not to "threaten our employees with harm" or to "interrogate our employees about their union activities." Hotel spokesman Richard Mintz said Loews agreed to the settlement "to avoid a lengthy, drawn-out controversy" and did not admit to any wrongdoing.

Independently, Loews Hotels Chief Executive Jonathan Tisch sent a letter to employees saying the hotel will recognize the results of a federally supervised election, but will not allow the faster card-check process sought by the union. "This is not about busting unions," Tisch wrote. "This is about trusting employees to make a choice."

The dispute has political implications because Tisch is a major Democratic fund-raiser and a friend and donor to Vice President Al Gore, who will officially become the party's presidential candidate next week. A contingent of party leaders and donors with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee had been scheduled to stay at Loews throughout the convention, but a spokesman said they will change hotels if the dispute is not settled.

Hundreds of protesters, among them the Rev. Jesse Jackson, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), are expected to join a rally outside the hotel Sunday evening.

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