Hospitality union workers strike for new contract

By Bridget Ekis

Hospitality and food service union workers in Unite Here Local 1 went on strike Friday, demanding, among other things, expanded healthcare for fulltime employees.

Strikes outside the Palmer House Hilton,17 E. Monroe St. and 25 other hotels in the city including Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue, began at 5 a.m.

According to chicagohotelstrike.org—the website homebase for the strikes—30 union contracts expired Aug. 31.

The previous contract did not provide healthcare to employees who were laid off during winter months, according to Sarah Lyons, a research analyst for Unite Here Local 1.

“The union’s decision to call a strike will have minimal impact on our operations,” Hilton Chicagovice president of Labor Relations Paul Ades wrote in a Sept. 7 email statement to The Chronicle. “We are negotiating with the union in good faith and are confident that we will reach an agreement that is fair to our valued team members and to our hotels.”

Lyons said she has previously met with employers to improve the new contract, however, little progress has been made.

“We’re ready to meet with employers at any time, they’re well aware of our proposals,” Lyons said.

The Cambria Magnificent Mile, Fairmont Chicago, Hotel Raffaello, Park Hyatt Chicago and Tremont Chicago Hotel at Magnificent Mileimay strike at anytime, according to the press release.

Keyla Valenzuela, daughter of a Hilton Chicago union worker, was out in support of the strikers.

“I know everyone here is a hard worker; they kill themselves over dirty rooms and they deserve the best,” Valenzuela said.

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