For immediate release
August 17, 2023
Agreement averts labor disruptions at major downtown hotels, lifts hourly wage to $25
Chicago – Chicago hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 1 at Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt-operated properties have ratified a new contract. The announcement comes two weeks ahead of the August 31st contract expiration date.
While Illinois hotels have seen record-breaking revenue this year, Chicago hotel workers who were hit hard by the pandemic have been struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.
The new three-year agreement requires that hotels clean guest rooms every day, provides a $25 per hour minimum for non-tipped workers, preserves workers’ excellent healthcare coverage, and strengthens their pension.
“The raise to $25 per hour means I can quit my part time job and spend more time with my wife who is suffering from long COVID. Now, I’ll be able to tell her things are going to be okay and really mean it,” said Luis Cuevas, a kitchen steward at the W City Center who lives in Rogers Park.
“Going back to daily room cleaning means I’ll have energy to play with my grandkids when I get home from work. When rooms aren’t cleaned every day, the work is much harder. Cleaning rooms every day is good for room attendants and for the guests,” said Shameeka Torry, a room attendant at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place who lives in Englewood.
“Since my wife’s brain surgery, she relies on daily medication to stay alive. It would be impossible to pay for it out of pocket. Maintaining our great health insurance means my wife will continue to get the care she needs,” explained Jesus Morales, a banquet server at The Drake Hotel and resident of Garfield Ridge.
“Amid this hot labor summer, it is great to see hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 1 come to an agreement with the three biggest hotel chains in Chicago. In contrast to 2018, we’re seeing this come before contract expiration, ensuring labor peace at major downtown hotels. The Chicago Federation of Labor applauds all the parties for reaching an agreement that allows hotel workers to catch up and keeps our city moving forward,” said Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor.
“This agreement will allow us to bring our collective focus back to showing visitors to Chicago true hospitality, starting with the return of daily room cleaning. It is a path forward which begins our world class city’s return to first class guest service and takes care of the workers who are the heart and soul of the Chicago hospitality experience,” stated Karen Kent, President of UNITE HERE Local 1.
During the last round of contract negotiations in 2018, thousands of Chicago hotel workers walked out on strike in the broadest hotel work stoppage in the city’s history. The 2023 agreement covers the majority of Chicago hotel workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 1 with contracts expiring this year, averting labor disruptions at major convention hotels throughout the city.