On June 22, 2010, Founding Partner Ken Ballard and Partner Matt Wakefield received a favorable arbitration award on behalf of a Chicago, Illinois hotel. The hotel leased part of the ground floor to a third party to operate a small non-union coffee shop. The union representing the hotel’s employees grieved the hotel’s actions and sought to have the coffee shop employees become subject to the collective bargaining agreement between the hotel and the union. The union argued that the hotel violated the parties’ agreement because the coffee shop was not physically separate from and independent of the hotel. A doorway had been built between the hotel lobby and the coffee shop, signs placed in the lobby, and the coffee shop was featured on the hotel’s website. The union also argued that the coffee shop violated the agreement by providing table service. The hotel argued that no violation occurred given that the doorway in question is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the signage and website references benefitted the hotel and the bargaining unit employees as much as the coffee shop. The hotel also argued that the union introduced no credible evidence of table service being offered in the coffee shop. The arbitrator sustained the union’s position on only two minor issues. He directed the hotel to limit its references to the coffee shop on its website and to remove the coffee shop’s signs in the hotel lobby. Significantly, the arbitrator denied the union’s request to apply the collective bargaining agreement to the coffee shop’s employees, rejected the union’s claim that table service was being offered, and agreed with the hotel that the doorway between the lobby and the coffee shop was not a violation of the parties’ agreement.

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