Talks yield no deal, strike still looms at the United Center

Members of Unite Here Local 1 are bargaining with concession operator Levy.

SHARE Talks yield no deal, strike still looms at the United Center
Members of Unite Here Local 1 walk a picket line Wednesday outside the United Center.

Members of Unite Here Local 1 walk a picket line Wednesday outside the United Center.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A bargaining session has ended with no agreement on a new contract for concessions workers at the United Center, leaving open the possibility of a strike.

Unite Here Local 1 represents about 700 workers at the West Side arena. Its members on Jan. 31 authorized a strike that could begin any time.

The union is bargaining with Levy, part of Compass Group, the operator of concessions at the United Center. Both sides met Thursday and talks broke off in the evening, with no further meetings scheduled.

La Voz Sidebar

Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago, la sección bilingüe del Sun-Times.

Afterwards, Levy issued a statement saying it was “perplexed” that union negotiators wouldn’t agree to let members vote on a contract proposal it said was “double in financial significance to any prior offer.”

The company said its latest offer included wage increases of $4 to $5 per hour, bringing the minimum starting pay to $20 an hour. It also said it was making it easier to qualify for health insurance and introducing a pension, among other benefits.

“It continues to be our sincere hope to reach a fair agreement that shows our team members how much they are valued,” the company said. “Without another bargaining session scheduled at this time, we have plans in place and are focused on continuing food and beverage service at the United Center.”

A union spokesman agreed the company had improved its offer but had no further comment. It has identified wage increases and affordable health insurance as main goals.

There are no events at the United Center until a Chicago Blackhawks game Sunday. The ensuing week is busy, however, with five events including concerts by SZA and Muse.

Local 1 has said many United Center workers visit food pantries or rely on welfare to make ends meet.

The Latest
Chicago firefighters responded to a call of a fire Wednesday at an auto body and battery shop about 6 p.m. The fire was out by 8 p.m., officials said. Flames spread to a neighboring building. No one was hurt.
The body of a male was pulled out of the water about 7:50 p.m. in the 600 block of North Lake Shore Drive, days after a boater went missing near Oak Street beach.
They make nine schools renamed since a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found 30 schools were named for slaveholders, and schools named after white people — mostly men — vastly outnumbered those named for African Americans, Latinos and indigenous people.
Robert Magiet, a restaurant owner, delivered 24 air conditioning units to residents in Logan Square, Humboldt Park and other nearby areas Tuesday and Wednesday as Chicago hit four days in a row with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees.
Everything at the business — Commercial Pallet, 2029 W. Hubbard St., including inventory, machinery, equipment, vehicles — was ‘a total loss,’ in the fire, the owner’s daughter said. Fire crews were rotated in and out to protect them from heat exhaustion.