For immediate release
May 11, 2007
Congress Strikers Freedom Rally
Chicago Hotel Workers Bring Struggle to New York City Gala
WHAT: Rally to tell the Nasser family to sign the contract and settle the strike at the Congress Hotel
WHO: Chicago’s Congress Hotel Strikers, religious and community leaders
WHEN: Monday, May 14, 2007 at 5:30pm
WHERE: Gather at Columbus Circle. Rally outside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan; 80 Columbus Circle.
WHY: Workers at the Congress Hotel in Chicago went out on strike in June of 2003 after hotel owners, the Nasser family of New York, cut wages and eliminated health and pension benefits. In the almost four years since, the Nassers have refused to hear the workers concerns and the hotel itself has fallen into disrepair.
The hotel’s majority owner, Albert Nasser, is an executive board member of the International Sephardic Education Foundation (ISEF), a scholarship fund for Israeli students, which will be holding its annual gala dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Monday.
The workers on strike will rally outside the hotel with religious leaders and community allies to tell the Nasser family that they can no longer ignore the hard-working men and women at the Congress Hotel. They feel that it is unfair that Nasser supports higher education for some, while depriving their own children of the basic necessities they need.
"We are saddened that someone who holds a leadership role in a significant Jewish organization has made it clear that other people’s children are less deserving than their own," says Jane Ramsey of Chicago’s Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.
"It’s been a tough four years," says Efrain Cortina, a banquet waiter at the Congress, "but we need a fair contract. Nasser refuses to hear us, so we will have to come to him." Efrain is out on strike together with his wife Leticia, a housekeeper at the Congress for eight years.