Inside these posts: Unite Here

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Union approves deal with local Hilton hotels

After 18 months without a labor contract, Hilton workers in Chicago have voted to settle on a four-year contract that maintains benefits at current levels and offers modest raises.

Hilton is the first major hotel chain in Chicago to settle with the union in the heated negotiation process which has brought months of picketing, temporary strikes, demonstrations and boycotts to some of the largest hotels in Chicago. Get the full story »

Hyatt: Let employees vote on whether to unionize

Four Hyatt hotels in California and Indiana are petitioning the National Labor Relations Board to allow employees to vote by secret ballot on whether to unionize, a move that goes against the wishes of Unite Here, the hotel workers union.

The union has been pushing for a “card check” vote, in which employees sign cards stating that they wish to be represented by a union. Hyatt has opposed the method, citing concerns that employees could be pressured into pledging support. Get the full story »

Strike today at Palmer House Hilton

Workers picket outside the Palmer House Hilton Thursday. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Tribune)

In the second such demonstration at a Hilton property in two months, workers at the Palmer House Hilton are on temporary strike today.

The strike at the property at 17 E. Monroe St. is joined by similar strikes at Hiltons in Honolulu and San Francisco and follows a 3-day strike two months ago at Hilton Chicago.

Unite Here Local 1 union spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel said workers are “outraged that Hilton finagled $180 million in bailout funds” while their expired contracts lingered. Get the full story »

Hyatt defends safety record after OSHA complaints

Hyatt Hotels Corp. defended its safety record Tuesday, following an announcement by the hotel workers union that it has filed complaints with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of Hyatt housekeepers.

The complaints are being filed on behalf of workers at 12 Hyatt properties, including four in Chicago, citing more than 780 injuries that have been recorded on OSHA logs at those hotels. Unite Here, the union filing the complaints, cited injury rates that are 50 percent higher than the rest of industry.

Robb Webb, chief human resources officer for Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corporation called Unite Here’s accusations of a dangerous work environment “false” and aimed at increasing union membership and dues. Get the full story »

Hyatt housekeepers to file OSHA complaints

Hyatt housekeepers in eight cities are expected to file complaints today with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, complaining of injuries they sustained on the job.

The complaints are being filed against the company by workers at 12 Hyatt properties, including four in Chicago, with the backing of Unite Here, the hotel workers union that has launched a campaign against the chain in an effort to lower the number of room housekeepers are expected to clean. Get the full story »

Workers picket Hyatt Regency in Rosemont

Striking workers picket this morning at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont. (Alex Garcia/Tribune)

Chicago Hyatt Hotel employees, working without a contract since this time last year, walked off the job Friday at the Hyatt Regency near O’Hare airport, protesting cuts in wages and health care benefits.

The move is part of a coordinated pre-Labor Day strike strategy organized by the national Unite Here labor union that kicked off Thursday with strikes at Hyatt Hotels Corp. properties in Honolulu and Los Angeles. Workers in Boston, Indianapolis and Toronto, among other cities, will also be engaged in protest activities Friday, the union said.

Unite Here spokesperson Annemarie Strassel said the national union is in multiple contract negotiations with the big three hotel companies — Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., Hilton Worldwide and Hyatt. But it chose to target Hyatt because the Chicago-based chain, which is controlled by the wealthy Pritzker family, has posed “the most regressive proposals.” Get the full story »

Hilton workers OK strike at 4 Chicago hotels

Hilton Hotels workers in Chicago voted Thursday night to authorize a strike at the Chicago Hilton, Hilton O’Hare, the Palmer House Hilton and the Drake, according to Unite Here Local 1 and Local 450.

The union said 96 percent of its members voted in favor of a strike, which authorizes the bargaining committee to call a strike, if necessary. They are the third group of hotel workers in nine months to hold such a vote in the wake of unsettled contract negotiations between Chicago hotels and the union. Get the full story »

Film paints Pritzkers as obstacle to recovery

Workers at the Union Tank Car plant. (Show Us The Tax Breaks)

A short film produced by the hotel workers’ union and screened Wednesday evening in Chicago holds up the city’s wealthy Pritzker family as poster children for corporate decision-making that they say has contributed to the downfall of the economy.

“Show Us the Tax Breaks” attacks the family, and Penny Pritzker in particular, for the decision to close East Chicago’s Union Tank Car plant in 2008. The plant was one of the largest employers in East Chicago, Ind., and when it closed, hundreds of workers were left unemployed. Get the full story »

Unite Here to screen film about Union Tank Car

Unite Here, the hotel workers union, is planning a public screening Wednesday of “Show Us the Tax Breaks” – a short film that attacks Chicago’s Pritzker family and their decision to close East Chicago’s Union Tank Car plant in 2008. The plant was one of the largest employers in East Chicago and when it closed, hundreds of workers were left unemployed.

The film argues that through their company — the Marmon Group, which owned Union Tank Car — the Pritzkers benefited from economic incentives and tax breaks in their decision to relocate the plant to Louisiana. At the time, the Marmon Group said that market conditions had forced the company to reduce overall production and that the aging facility in East Chicago was less efficient. Get the full story »

Chicago Hyatt workers authorize strike

In the wake of still-unsettled labor disputes, union workers from Chicago-area Hyatt hotels voted Thursday to authorize a strike.

The vote does not mean workers will strike. It authorizes the union’s negotiating committee to call a strike if it is deemed necessary. This was the second such vote since negotiations began. In October, Chicago hotel workers voted to authorize a strike at five downtown Starwood hotels. So far, they have not called for a strike.

Union contracts covering 6,000 workers at 31 hotels in downtown Chicago expired Aug. 31, and the two sides have been unable to reach a settlement, according to Unite Here Local 1.

On Thursday, members of Unite Here Local 1 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Park Hyatt, Hyatt McCormick Place and Hyatt O’Hare voted by a 92 percent majority to authorize a strike if necessary.

While the contracts affect workers at several hotel chains, Unite Here has focused its efforts on Chicago-based Hyatt and the Pritzker family, which controls the chain, holding them up as an example of management that it claims is using the economy as an excuse to take advantage of workers.

Hyatt has said that negotiations are best left for the negotiating table.

Dozens arrested at Hyatt protests

Hyatt workers at the May 26, 2010 protest outside the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago. (José M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

About 30 people, including a priest, protesting working conditions in front of the Hyatt Regency were arrested by police Thursday in a staged act of civil disobedience.

Annemarie Strassel, a spokeswoman for Unite Here Local 1, said 200 workers had been prepared to be arrested, but out of respect for slain Police Officer Michael Bailey’s wake Thursday evening, the union agreed to lower the number of demonstrators so that officers will have time to attend the wake. Get the full story »