Workers at the Hyatt Regency near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport are on strike. Hyatt O’Hare workers join Hyatt workers in several cities across North America who are striking as part of a wave of demonstrations this week by thousands of hotel workers protesting Hyatt (NYSE: H) and its billionaire ownership family, the Pritzkers.
Union contracts covering Hyatt O’Hare workers and approximately 8,000 other Chicago-area hotel workers expired on August 31, 2009. On July 29, 2010, hundreds of Hyatt O’Hare workers, who are members of UNITE HERE Local 450, and UNITE HERE Local 1 members at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Park Hyatt, Hyatt McCormick Place, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, with 92% voting in favor of striking. The vote represents a major escalation of a citywide labor dispute among Chicago’s downtown hotels and with Hyatt in particular, which has become the target of labor demonstrations across North America in recent weeks.
"Life has been hard for me and my family, ever since Hyatt laid off my husband in the laundry," says Carmen Sandoval, a UNITE HERE Local 450 member and room attendant of 30 years at the Hyatt O’Hare outside Chicago, where union contracts expired over a year ago. "Now they have us working harder and faster with fewer people, and people are getting injured. I have to take Tylenol everyday just to get through my shift. I am on strike because I’m tired of billionaires profiting from our pain."
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