The continuing saga of the Congress Plaza Hotel labor strike took a new turn Thursday, winning approval for a controversial new addition just days after politicians and workers commemorated the sixth anniversary of the picket line.
The city's Plan Commission approved the hotel's bid to build two rooftop additions after a circuit court judge last week ruled nullified attempts to block the permit based on building code violations.
The commissioners, all of whom were appointed by Mayor Daley, who supports the hotel against the labor union, voted to issue the expansion permit after a contentious meeting at City Hall that saw outbursts from union members in the audience, the Sun-Times reports:
When it became clear the measure would pass, the meeting was briefly disrupted by about 50 union supporters shouting "Shame on you" at the panel as police led them from the City Council chamber.
Gov. Pat Quinn was the keynote speaker at a Monday rally in front of the Michigan Avenue hotel commemorating the strike's sixth year. Workers at the hotel, which continues operating despite the strike, are demanding better wages and benefits.
According to the Sun-Times, the New York-based group that owns the hotel wants to add four floors to the hotel's southwest portion along Harrison Street and one floor on the side near Michigan and Congress to accommodate a swimming pool, health club, restaurant and about 56 new hotel rooms.
Quinn, State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and a number of Aldermen and other elected officials took turns on the picket line.
"I don't think they should be allowed to expand at all. I think they have to respect their workers," Quinn told the Sun-Times.
Giannoulias called the labor dispute "a debacle" that has as "gone on long enough," Progress Illinois reports.
Watch comments from Giannoulias:
Watch Quinn's remarks: