Union workers at Chicago's Hyatt Regency launched a one-day strike Monday at the 151 E. Wacker Drive location as they called for better working conditions and a better sense of job security.
As the Chicago Sun-Times reported, the strike began at 4 a.m. and was currently scheduled to continue until 8 p.m. It had not caused any service interruptions, though the hotel's union represents some 600 housekeepers, bell staff, restaurant staff and others.
Annemarie Strassel, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 1, which represents a total of some 1,800 Hyatt hotel employees in the Chicago area, told the Sun-Times the strikers current biggest concerns are the housekeepers' working conditions and the hotel's usage of subcontracting. The workers' contract expired just short of two years ago and in that time, the union has held other demonstrations against the hotel chain, including a September 2010 one-day strike at the O'Hare hotel and a May 2010 walkout.
The Hyatt has, in response, called the strike a "production" intended to increase the union's membership and dues, according to NBC Chicago. The hotel chain has, according to a spokesperson, proposed to match the benefit and pay package the union had agreed to with other similar hotels in the area.
Nevertheless one protester who has worked at the Hyatt for just under three decades still said he and his fellow picketers remain "sick and tired of all the disrespect we're getting from the Hyatt hotels."
“Hyatt is one of the most abusive hotels in their treatment of housekeepers and has the worst record on subcontracting,” added Henry Tamarin, Local 1's president in a news release. “They refuse to budge on these important issues, and now workers have hit a boiling point.”
Last Tuesday, several thousand protesters showed up to a rally protesting bank bailouts and tax cuts for the wealthy in a rally sponsored by Stand Up! Chicago at the same location. The Hyatt Regency was host to the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce's annual Chicago Executive Summit. Twenty-four individuals were arrested during that protest while, at press time, no arrests have been reported from the Unite Here Local 1 strike.
Unionized Hyatt hotel workers have recently waged similar demonstrations in other parts of the country, most notably picketers at seventeen separate hotels who called for a boycott of the chain in a coordinated effort last Friday.