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BUSINESS & TECH

U.S. Labor Union Files Complaint Against Anbang

By Yang Ge
The U.S. labor union Unite Here said three of its affiliates have requested information about Anbang’s ownership and finances relating to hotels the Chinese company owns in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Photo: Visual China
The U.S. labor union Unite Here said three of its affiliates have requested information about Anbang’s ownership and finances relating to hotels the Chinese company owns in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Photo: Visual China

A labor union representing workers at three U.S. hotels owned by Anbang Insurance Group Co. has filed a complaint against the company after its questions about the Chinese giant’s ownership and finances went unanswered, the union said.

Anbang has gone on a global shopping spree over the last three years that covers a wide range of assets. Many of those are hotels, including the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York, which Anbang bought for nearly $2 billion and is now converting into luxury condominiums. The company has also come under scrutiny in China for a lack of transparency about its ownership, and also due to questions over its finances.

The U.S. labor union Unite Here said three of its affiliates requested information in May about Anbang’s ownership and finances relating to hotels the Chinese company owns in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. Unite Here said it was also seeking information about potential plans to convert the hotels into condominiums, similar to the Waldorf Astoria plan.

The union said Anbang was obliged to respond to its requests under federal labor laws granting it access to information about practices that could affect unionized workers at the hotels.

“Anbang and its operators received our request for information three months ago, but have failed to provide the information that we and our members need,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11 in Los Angeles. “By filing these federal charges, we’re asking the National Labor Relations Board to compel disclosure.”

An Anbang spokesman had no immediate comment on Friday about the situation.

Labor unions have long been a point of difficulty for Chinese companies expanding abroad, since such bodies wield large power in the West but are nearly nonexistent in China. One of the latest examples of troubled relations has come at an automotive glass factory owned by Chinese giant Fuyao Glass Industry Group Co. Ltd. in the U.S. state of Ohio, where a union is attempting to organize workers amid claims by some of poor working conditions.

Anbang and several other major Chinese investors have also been in recent headlines in connection with media reports saying Beijing is clamping down on overseas investments by making it harder to move money abroad. Anbang also said in June that its chairman and general manager Wu Xiaohui couldn’t perform his duties due to personal reasons. The company is China’s third largest insurer with 1.97 trillion yuan ($290 billion) in assets.

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)

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