Workers say holdout Hyatt has the power to end their strike
Chicago hotel workers continue to call on Hyatt Regency Chicago to settle a new contract. | Unite Here Local 1/Twitter

CHICAGO – Hundreds of Chicago hotel workers continue to rally support as they call on Hyatt Regency Chicago to settle a new contract and end their strike. Workers have been on strike for over 25 days at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and the Hyatt Regency Chicago — the largest hotel in the Midwest.

The billion- dollar hotel chain boasts a four-star rating and charges customers upwards of $239 a room per night. Despite their claims that Hyatt is “named number two on the top 100 best workplaces for diversity,” many of its employees say they continue to suffer at the expense of corporate greed. “Hilton, Marriott, and six other hotels have reached new agreements and brought the strikes to an end. Now it’s Hyatt’s turn,” said Karen Kent, President of Unite Here, Local 1.

One union member, Babar Sultan, works in room service at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, off of Upper Wacker drive. He says that despite being employed by Hyatt for several years, he has never been given long-term healthcare. “When we get sick we have no way to take care of ourselves.”

“I work at the largest hotel in the city of Chicago. We deserve to be equal to the rest of the city,” said Demetrius Jackson, who has worked in convention services at the Hyatt Regency Chicago for 11 years. In an interview with WBBM Newsradio, Jackson said his wife Jackie McCastle-Jackson also works at the hotel in housekeeping. “My wife and I walked out on strike together for a better future for our family. We will be on strike for as long as it takes. We deserve to be treated as equals, and not like second-class citizens.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Hyatt Hotels has requested the intervention of a federal mediator after the union “moved backwards in their positions and added new unacceptable proposals” during a negotiation session Saturday. Hyatt officials are claiming that it is the union’s unwillingness to negotiate that has prevented them from reaching a consensus.

Meanwhile hundreds of Hilton hotel workers were able to ratify a new contract, successfully ending three-week strikes at four other hotels.The number of striking hotels went down to 9 as Ambassador Hotel workers ratified a contract Tuesday afternoon.

Nevertheless, more than one 1,000 Hyatt workers remain without a contract. With summer fading away, and tourism season sizzling down, hotel employees are hoping that the remaining hotels will come to a collective agreement soon so that they can all return to work. “We walked out on strike to set a new standard in the city.” said Roushaunda Williams, who has worked at the Palmer House Hilton as a bartender for 18 years.  “We will continue to support Hyatt workers and other strikers for as long as it takes.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Michelle Zacarias
Michelle Zacarias

Michelle Zacarias is a staff writer at People's World. A graduate of the Univ. of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Zacarias has invested her time in raising awareness on issues of social justice and equality. She has written and conducted research in several parts of the world; most recently Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where she presented on disability awareness at the U.S. Consulate. Michelle self identifies as multi-marginalized: as a Latina, a woman of color and a person with disabilities. She considers her experiences a privilege, one that she hopes to use as a platform for spreading socio-political consciousness. In her spare time Michelle enjoys drinking pricey wines and watching old school zombie flicks.  

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