INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Players Association is threatening to boycott three prominent hotels during the NFL Scouting Combine next year as a show of support to hotel employees.
Unite Here, a Chicago-based hotel workers union, has been trying to organize employees at the Westin Indianapolis, Hyatt Regency Indianapolis and Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel & Suites in Indianapolis for the past two years. Letters sent from the NFLPA to hotel executives and released by Unite Here shows that the NFLPA believes the hotels are bullying employees into staying out of the union and aren’t paying them like their peers in other major cities.
One letter said employees at the Hyatt signed a petition asking the hotel to allow a process “free from employer intimidation.” The NFLPA says in other letters that employees at the Westin and Sheraton also have called for a “fair process” but the hotels have refused to acknowledge the concerns.
Association executive director DeMaurice Smith and Indianapolis Colts center Jeff Saturday, a member of the association’s executive committee, signed the letters.
The combine brings NFL hopefuls to the city to be tested in preparation for the yearly draft.
“The NFL Combine in Indianapolis fills many hotel rooms, and we will do business with hotel companies that treat their employees with fairness and respect,” the letters said.
Unite Here does not condone intimidation.
“At the end of the day, workers have to make decisions for themselves to decide if the union is for them,” Unite Here spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel said. “All we ask is that they have enough confidence that they can make their decision without fear of losing their jobs.”
Amy Patti, a Chicago-based spokeswoman for Hyatt, said Unite Here isn’t telling the whole story.
“We are disappointed that Unite Here, in an aggressive campaign to pursue its own agenda, continues to mislead the public about Hyatt’s commitment to our employees,” Patti’s statement said. “Hyatt supports its employees’ rights to choose whether they want to be represented by a union in a democratic, secret-ballot process supervised by the appropriate government representatives.”
Westin and Sheraton did not immediately return calls.
NFLPA spokesman Carl Francis declined to comment.