Managers at Hotel Frank, who have been sparring with their employees since taking over the financially troubled hotel following a bank foreclosure earlier this year, last week fired an outspoken union organizer on the day after the hotel was targeted by a boisterous picket line. But the employee, longtime bellman Marc Norton, said this transparent effort to intimidate the workers won't work.
“They think if they get rid of me their problems will go away, but it's closer to the opposite that's true,” Norton, a longtime local progressive activist, told the Guardian. “They think they got rid of me, but now they've turned me into a full-time organizer.”
Norton and his union, Unite-Here Local 2, will fight back starting tomorrow (Tues/5) with another protest in front of the hotel, 386 Geary Street, starting at 4:15 pm. Hotel Frank, which was named after notorious landlord Frank Lembi, is one of 10 local hotels on the boycott list of Local 2, whose workers have been agitating for a new contract since theirs expired last year.
The Hotel Frank and its sister Hotel Metropolis in May were taken over by Wells Fargo, which turned over management to the Portland, Ore-based Provenance Hotels, whose local managers unilaterally increased workloads and slashed employee benefits at the unionized hotels, according the employees and their union. Provenance officials refused to comment for my last story and did not return another phone call today on the firing of Norton and another union organizer.
In addition to the protests, Norton has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that his dismissive was illegal retaliation for legally protected union organizing, a complaint that Norton believes will be decided in his favor: “It'll happen, it's just a matter of when.”