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Chicago Hotel Strike: Some Progress, Some Friction

Five more hotels reach agreement with the hotel workers union, but several large properties remain in a stalemate.

This past weekend saw five more Chicago hotels—four under the Hilton umbrella and one independent—reach an agreement with UNITE HERE Local 1, which represents housekeepers, doormen, cooks, servers, and other front-line employees who went out on strike on September 7 at 26 properties. With The Drake, the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile, the Hilton Chicago, the Inn of Chicago, and the Palmer House Hilton having settled on new contracts with the union, 16 of the 26 hotels that were initially affected by the strike are back to having a full roster of service personnel.

The union said the new deal will “ensure that hotel workers will keep their healthcare if they’re laid off in the wintertime,” which was a central point of contention between the union and management. Under the workers’ previous contract that expired on August 31, workers classified as full-time could nonetheless lose benefits if they were laid off during winter months, when business slows down. Wage increases and better job security have been addressed in the negotiations as well.

Even with this progress, though, some meetings-heavy hotels remain without a labor agreement and are dealing with noisy picketers outside their entrances. On September 29, Hyatt executives said they had requested a federal mediator to oversee their negotiations because they claim the union “moved backwards in their positions and added new unacceptable proposals” during a meeting the day before.

“Hyatt continues to negotiate in good faith with the goal of coming to an agreement. Unfortunately, the union did not share that goal,” Michael D’Angelo, Hyatt’s vice president of labor relations, said in a statement. “Hyatt has agreed to the same wage and benefit increases and extended healthcare that the union has agreed to with other hotels. The union is remaining uncooperative.” At press time, UNITE HERE Local 1 had not responded to a request by MeetingsNet for comment on D'Angelo's claims.

Entering its fourth week, the strike continues at the Ambassador Chicago, Cambria Magnificent Mile, Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago-Metro, Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites Magnificent Mile, Holiday Inn Mart Plaza, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, Kinzie Hotel, Warwick Allerton, and Wyndham Grand. What's more, the union says that at four additional properties "there could be a strike at any time." They are the Fairmont Chicago; Hotel Raffaello; Park Hyatt Chicago; and Tremont Chicago Hotel at Magnificent Mile

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