For immediate release
June 15, 2009
WHERE: In front of the Congress Hotel – Congress & Michigan Ave., 520 S. Michigan
WHEN: Monday, June 15, 2009, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Chicago, Ill.—Today, Governor Patrick Quinn will join strikers from the Congress Hotel and hundreds of community supporters to commemorate the 6th Anniversary of the Congress Hotel Strike. With about 65 active picketers, the labor dispute at the Congress Hotel is now the longest active strike in the world, and the longest hotel strike in history.
Members of UNITE HERE Local 1 working at the Congress Hotel went out on strike after the hotel decided to freeze wages until 2010, 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. Since the time that negotiations began, the Congress Hotel has never offered a proposal with wage or healthcare increases. Today, Chicago housekeepers earn $14.60 an hour, while the Congress Hotel still pays 2002 wages – just $8.83 an hour.
This year, there has been unprecedented campaign activity to end the strike. Since January, strikers have led over 500 actions in Chicago, confronting top city leaders and national convention planners, who bring big business to the hotel. As a result, UNITE HERE Local 1 has moved $700,000 worth of business this year from the Congress Hotel.
Last month, Alderman Ricardo Muñoz (22nd Ward), who is also speaking at the action, reintroduced to City Council “Right to Know” legislation that would protect visitors to Chicago requiring area hotels to notify customers of a prolonged strike before making reservations. Similar legislation was proposed in 2005, but lost by a slim margin in a City Council vote. Last month, 42 of the 50 Chicago City Alderman signed on as co-sponsors, including 13 opponents to the original legislation.
“Chicago is a world-class tourist destination, and visitors expect a safe and comfortable stay,” said Henry Tamarin, President of the UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s 15,000-member hospitality workers’ union. “When customers unknowingly book at a hotel that is on strike, it leaves a black eye on our city. We have an exciting opportunity to bring the Olympics here, and that by itself will bring visitors from around the world. That makes this even more important.”
The strike anniversary action comes on the eve of another round of citywide hotel contract negotiations affecting 6,000 Chicago hotel workers, whose contracts expire in August 2009. Additionally, contracts covering another 4,000 area hospitality workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 1 come due this year.
UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, represents over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago and casino workers in Northwest Indiana.
For more information on the strike, go to PresidentPicketsCongress.org.