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Labor community condemns Kinzie Hotel’s illegal lock out of workers

Photo caption: Hotel workers, labor leaders, and elected officials demand Kinzie workers be reinstated. (Twitter/UNITE HERE Local 1)

Yesterday, September 4, 2023, hotel workers, labor leaders and elected officials rallied in front of the Kinzie Hotel to protest the illegal lock out of Kinzie workers.

Leaders who are demanding that the Kinzie Hotel reinstate the locked out workers immediately include Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Don Villar, Secretary-Treasurer of the Chicago Federation of Labor, Tim Drea, President of theIllinois AFL-CIO, Fr. Clete Kiley, Chaplain for the Chicago Federation of Labor,Greg Kelley, President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana Missouri & Kansas (HCIIMK)  &  the SEIU Illinois State Council, Corliss King, 2nd Vice President of TWU Local 556- the Union of Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants,  William Niesman, Business Manager, IBEW / Local 9, Alderperson Michael D. Rodriguez (22nd Ward), Illinois State Senator Javier L. Cervantes (1st District), and Roushaunda Williams, Vice President Illinois AFL-CIO Executive Board.

The union contract at the Kinzie Hotel expired on August 31. On September 1, Kinzie workers held a brief demonstration before their shift began, informing the public that there is no union contract. In the days that followed, Kinzie workers who participated in the demonstration were not allowed to work and received letters from management saying they were being replaced. Locked out workers were told they could apply for reinstatement, but that their jobs might not be available.

“We were exercising our rights as union members to picket because there is no union contract. We hoped the Kinzie would settle a contract quickly like many other hotels have done. But instead, the Kinzie tossed us into the street like trash. My co-workers and I deserve better,” said Jose Sanchez, a houseperson at the Kinzie Hotel who has 16 years of service and is among the workers who were locked out over Labor Day weekend.

Last month, thirty-one Chicago hotels came to an agreement with workers prior to contract expiration, including properties operated by Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt, the city’s three biggest hotel chains. The contracts ratified by hotel workers at the thirty-one properties require that hotels clean guest rooms every day, provide a $25 per hour minimum for non-tipped workers, preserve workers’ excellent healthcare coverage, and strengthen their pensions.

The Kinzie Hotel indicated agreement to terms that other hotels have agreed to but asked for additional changes to the contract.  The Kinzie and UNITE HERE Local 1 had scheduled contract negotiations for September 19. Instead of waiting to see if the parties could work things out, the Kinzie Hotel locked out workers over Labor Day weekend.

“It is shameful that the Kinzie has resorted to an illegal lock out of its workers. Here in Chicago – whether it’s Labor Day, New Year’s Day, Groundhog Day, or a regular Monday – we stand with workers. Every day is Labor Day in Chicago because Chicago relies on and believes in the working people who make this city great. We call on the Kinzie to stop being a stain on the fabric of Chicago’s tourism industry and immediately bring back locked out workers,” said Bob Reiter, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor.

“We believe in our members and our Union. We will be with Labor and with every Kinzie worker until this lock out ends. The Kinzie Hotel needs to walk this back and show working people in our city, and the visitors who come from around the world, the true spirit of Chicago hospitality,” said Karen KentPresident of UNITE HERE Local 1.

About UNITE HERE Local 1

UNITE HERE Local 1 is a labor union representing hospitality workers in the Chicago area that work in hotels, restaurants, casinos, universities, stadiums, sports arenas, convention centers and airports

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