Stephen Ross has shown disrespect for workers’ rights through the actions of his companies. His disregard for workers’ rights on his Hudson Yards construction site in New York City is reflected in Equinox’s apparent union busting in San Francisco.
In May 2015, SEIU Local 87 filed an election petition covering the employees at three Equinox gyms in San Francisco. The workers voted to unionize by a vote of 41 to 33. The workers at Equinox held a protest on July 17th, 2018, complaining that after three years they still did not have a contract with Equinox. Additionally, the workers claim that Equinox “refuses janitors the same access to water fountains as non-janitor workers;” the janitors are primarily immigrants and people of color. In short, they are fighting for “a cup of water and a fair contract.”
The workers have been fighting Equinox for three years in court. Despite that the workers voted to unionize, Equinox objected to the results. Equinox cited several issues as the basis for its objection. After studying the case, however, the NLRB Hearing Officer found that one of Equinox’s objections hinged on “ [a] rumor…at most,” and described an Equinox manager’s testimony as being based on “uncorroborated hearsay.” Accordingly, the Regional Director certified the union’s victory. The union subsequently demanded bargaining, but Equinox declined “in order to test the certification.”
The NLRB originally determined that Equinox had violated Sections 8(a)(5) and 8(a)(1) of the NLRA, which correspond to the refusal to bargain in good faith. After reviewing the case, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concluded that Equinox could not challenge the NLRB’s resolution on two of its objections, and that “given the lack of any evidence” pertaining to the third objection, “the Board did not abuse its substantial discretion in certifying the election results.” In spite of the rulings of both the NLRB and the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Equinox has filed an additional case with the NLRB against SEIU Local 87 which is currently ongoing.