Donald Trump and his business partners have lost the latest round of their Las Vegas labor fight.
For months, the owners of the Trump International Hotel have been tangling with the powerful Culinary Workers Union, the Las Vegas-based local union of Unite Here. The union won an election to represent workers at the hotel in December, and the hotel has been challenging the vote's results ever since.
But a regional director for the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that referees elections, has thrown out the Trump team's objections and certified the election results, the union announced Monday.
"We asked the company to sit down and bargain with us back in December, and they should have," Bethany Khan, a spokeswoman for the union, told The Huffington Post. "They're running out of time and options to delay this."
Hotel management still has a couple of cards to play. It can appeal the regional director's decision to the full board in Washington, but there's a good chance the President Barack Obama-nominated board members will simply affirm the regional director's ruling. Trump's team could then refuse to bargain with the union, kicking the dispute to federal court. But so far, it has lost legally at every step of the way.
A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to HuffPost's questions about the regional director's decision.
It's common for employers to drag out or obstruct the unionization process, often in an effort to delay or quash a first union contract. What makes the Trump International Hotel case novel is that one of the main parties in the dispute is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.
Butting heads with a union wouldn't hurt a candidate during the GOP primary. In fact, it could even help, considering that many Republican voters have a dim view of organized labor. But the dispute involves more than 500 housekeepers and restaurant and guest services workers, many of whom are Latino and Filipino -- and an ongoing tussle with workers who are generally low-wage and mostly immigrant probably wouldn't play nearly as well with moderates in a general election.
The culinary union, surely sensing an opening provided by the 2016 race, has been eager to pillory Trump over the dispute. The real estate mogul co-owns the hotel with casino magnate Phillip Ruffin.
Trump, for his own part, has boasted in the past about getting along with unions in his real estate dealings in New York. "I have great relationships with unions," he told Newsweek last year.
But the culinary union has accused Trump and his team of playing dirty. It has filed a raft of what are known as unfair labor practice charges against management, claiming they illegally threatened and punished workers who were union supporters. Last month, the labor board's general counsel, who acts more or less as a prosecutor, accused the hotel of illegally firing one worker and promising opportunities to others if they dropped their union support.
Most hotel workers on the Vegas Strip are unionized these days, but that's not the case at the Trump International. The union claims housekeepers there on average earn an hourly wage that's $3.30 less than what comparable housekeepers make at other hotels. According to the labor board, 238 workers voted in favor of union representation in December, compared with 209 who voted against.
Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist