Marriott considers me violent because I was ‘overly critical’ of management
Those who oppose the right to collective bargaining in the workplace frame it as a ploy for more money. They say that unions drive up the cost of doing business and invite a ‘third party’ into the relationship between workers and their employers. In the context of a union organizing drive it is a powerful message. After all the union provides staff to facilitate the process and when an agreement is reached provide staff to support union members. Of course businesses have their lawyers and staff to support management’s directives. The issue isn’t money it’s control.
A case in point is my recent experience with Marriott Corporation.
I’m from the Washington, D.C. area where Marriott is headquartered. To me Marriott meant Hot Shoppes Cafeteria and fast food outlets. Marriott is the home team and employees thousands of Washingtonians.
After a brief period of homelessness in the D.C. area I accepted an invitation to North Carolina and eventually went to work as a night auditor for a Marriott franchisee. Many Marriott properties are not owned by the corporation. Eventually I accepted a job offer to work for a Marriott owned property in Reno, Nevada as a night auditor. It seemed a positive move. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Marriott claims to have a fair process and values its employees. But without a collective bargaining agreement management controls the narrative and the ‘fair treatment’ promised by corporate is reactive only. If I am unhappy with a decision it will stand or I can raise a complaint with corporate HR.
Yesterday I was informed by Marriott corporate HR that my local management’s decision that I am violence risk to their employee and guests is sustained by the facts. Why? Because I was ‘overly critical’ of management in a private email. You can read about it in more detail here.
So what does this have to do with unions?
When a worker is called into a meeting with management they are alone and unrepresented. Weingarten rights permit workers to have a representative in the room when meeting with management. Even when I was national President of AFGE Local 1 representing 46,000 TSA Officers, we were permitted to be a witness in the room when officers were called into a disciplinary meeting with management. At the time we did not have collective bargaining rights but it was the fair thing to do and it made a difference. A witness changes the tone of the meeting. It tamps down the emotion of the issue at hand.
Marriott has seventeen properties that hold this best standard since they have a collective bargaining agreement. All the rest, like the Residence Inn-Reno do not follow that standard. So my meeting with Assistant General Manager Dujuan Scott, pictured below, was conducted with only he and I in the room well past midnight as he called my criticism of him ‘vulgar, and continued an angry diatribe for over 90 minutes refusing my requests to leave the room.
Surely he would have behaved differently with a witness in the room.
Marriott never permitted me to have a fair hearing until I wrote the CEO Arne Sorenson three months later after I was terminated. Yesterday after nearly three weeks of waiting for the investigation to begin after a brief conversation with HR I was informed that my appeal of their decision was denied. I have never been disciplined in over four years of service and certainly did not have a history of violence. Yet it is Marriott’s decision that I am a violent person who is a risk to employees and guest because I was ‘overly critical’ of management.
Now I face an uncertain future including over $5000 in medical bills due to Mr. Scott’s report to the Reno Police Department claiming I was a risk to him and to myself. The hospital agreed that Marriott overreacted yet I am without a job and saddled with this financial burden along with the decision that I am violent.
With Weingarten rights guaranteed by collective bargaining rights none of this would have happened. So if you have the opportunity to organize by all means do so. The lesson is simple: collective bargaining makes not just better workplaces but better supervisors.
If you stay in a non-union Marriott property or choose to patronize any non-union company when a union alternative is available you are supporting businesses that do not respect or protect their employers. Dujuan Scott is not the only manager who uses law enforcement to rule with an iron fist to protect his ego. He is the symptom and the result of a terrible disease in the American corporate world and we can do better.