Meeting in Chicago or at a Marriott? Here’s the Latest on the Hotel Strike

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hotel strike
Seventy-five protesting hotel workers were arrested in front of the Westin St. Francis on Monday.

For the first time, UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, has called a citywide hotel strike.

Thousands of housekeepers, doormen, cooks and other hotel employees at 25 hotels began picketing on Friday, and plan to do so around the clock until an agreement is reached. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, executives at the Sheraton Grand Chicago stepped in on Friday morning to cover duties usually handled by the striking workers. The hotel’s parent company, Marriott International, addressed workers at 6 of its Chicago hotels with a statement: “We are disappointed to learn that UNITE HERE Local 1 has chosen to resort to a strike at this time,” the company said. “There is nothing about the current state of the negotiations or the long-standing and productive bargaining relationship between Marriott International and UNITE HERE that suggests that a strike is warranted or necessary. The parties are not at an impasse on any issue.”

UNITE HERE Local 1 represents close to 16,000 hotel, food service and casino workers. The affected hotels are:

  • Ambassador Chicago
  • Cambria Magnificent Mile
  • Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago-Metro
  • Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile
  • Drake Hotel
  • Fairmont Chicago
  • Hampton Inn / Homewood Suites Magnificent Mile
  • Hilton Chicago
  • Holiday Inn Mart Plaza
  • Hotel Blake
  • Hotel Raffaello
  • Hyatt Regency Chicago
  • Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
  • Inn of Chicago
  • JW Marriott
  • Kimpton Hotel Allegro
  • Kimpton Hotel Palomar
  • Kinzie Hotel
  • Millennium Knickerbocker
  • Palmer House
  • Park Hyatt Chicago
  • The Ritz-Carlton Chicago
  • Sheraton Grand Chicago
  • Tremont Chicago Hotel at Magnificent Mile
  • W Chicago City Center
  • W Chicago Lakeshore
  • Warwick Allerton
  • Westin Michigan Avenue
  • Westin River North
  • Wyndham Grand

Thousands of Marriott employees also took to the streets on Labor Day in several cities, from Honolulu to Boston. A rally of more than 1,000 hotel workers and allies of UNITE HERE Local 2 resulted in 75 arrests as the group staged a sit-in in front of the Westin St. Francis Hotel. The historic hotel is one of 7 properties owned and operated by Marriott in San Francisco that have authorized a strike vote on September 13 over stalled contract talks affecting 8,000 housekeepers, bartenders, cooks and bell hops.

Meanwhile in Boston, hundreds of workers held a Labor Day rally in front of the Westin Copley, banging drums and carrying signs, and police were forced to stop traffic on Huntington Avenue, one of the city’s busiest streets, as about 20 people staged a sit-in.

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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.