Citywide union hotel contracts expired more than a year ago, and hotel workers at the Chicago Hilton walked off the job on October 16, launching a three-day strike protesting Hilton’s efforts to lock workers into the recession. Outraged that Hilton finagled $180 million in bailout funds but is still squeezing workers, hundreds of workers picketed, wearing signs that read “Taxpayers on Strike”. The strike in Chicago joined strikes at the world’s largest Hiltons in Honolulu and San Francisco, which began earlier in the week.
“Hilton’s business is coming back, but it seems like they want housekeepers like me to live in the recession forever,” says Sherri Steverson, a room attendant at the Chicago Hilton downtown, one of Hilton Hotels’ largest owned hotels. “The bailout money was supposed to protect jobs, but Hilton is destroying them. I already have to take pain medication to get through the day, and the room-cleaning increases that Hilton is proposing for housekeepers at my hotel just might break me all together. ”
Hilton Worldwide, owned by one of Wall Street’s largest private equity firms – Blackstone – is taking unfair advantage of its workers and the American taxpayers. Hilton got $180 million of bailout funds not meant for wealthy hotel owners when the Federal Reserve wrote off some debt Hilton owed U.S. taxpayers. Meanwhile, Hilton wants lock workers into cheap recession contracts even as hotels rebound.