For immediate release
June 15, 2012
(Chicago, IL) Today, strikers at the Congress Hotel, joined by hundreds of community supporters and members of UNITE HERE Local 1, are rallying outside of the Congress Hotel to commemorate the 9th Anniversary of the Congress Hotel Strike, the longest active strike in the U.S.
On June 15, 2003, members of UNITE HERE Local 1 working at the Congress Hotel went out on strike after the hotel decided to freeze wages, refused to pay healthcare premiums for its employees (effectively eliminating employee healthcare benefits), and demanded the ability to subcontract out all bargaining unit work at the hotel.
"If we quit with the strike now, we quit the fight to ensure hotel jobs in the city are good, family-sustaining jobs," says Mario Moreno who worked at the Congress for nine years before the strike began. "The biggest injustices can’t be solved in a day. They take time."
There are about 60 active remaining strikers, who both picket the Congress hotel and have led a campaign statewide to bring an end to the Congress Hotel Strike. Working families in Chicago have made astounding gains in recent years because the Congress strikers have refused to settle for substandard wages. At the time that the strike began, Chicago housekeepers were making just $8.83 an hour, compared to $15.70 an hour today. To ensure that hotel jobs in this city are strong, family-sustaining jobs, Congress strikers have taken the fight to the streets of Chicago and all over the world.
This year’s anniversary is the first since the rise of the Occupy movement and protesting by working people in Wisconsin. These protestors, along with hundreds of other individuals, spontaneously rallied with Congress strikers in solidarity during the NATO convention in Chicago this year. These people-powered movements fighting against the abuses of the large corporations echo the sentiment that the strikers of the Congress Hotel stand for.
"The sacrifice the strikers have made to go out on the line daily speaks to not only their dedication, but to the intense belief these individuals have for what they’re doing," said Henry Tamarin, UNITE HERE Local 1 President. "The strikers know their dedication to the boycott will help working families now and in the future."