Kinzie Hotel ends lockout of union employees

Members of Unite Here Local 1 were reinstated after a bargaining session resulted in a tentative contract.

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Jose Sanchez, a 16-year employee at the Kinzie Hotel, speaks at a rally Monday about workers who have been locked out by management.

Jose Sanchez (at podium), a 16-year employee at the Kinzie Hotel, speaks at a rally Monday about workers who had been locked out by management.

Unite Here Local 1

Kinzie Hotel staff who were locked out of their jobs returned to their shifts Friday, according to the union representing the workers.

Unite Here Local 1 said the workers were reinstated after a lengthy bargaining session Thursday. The talks also resulted in a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract that largely mirrors agreements reached last month with 31 other Chicago hotels.

Workers must ratify the new contract for it to take effect. The ratification vote is scheduled for Sunday.

Sarah Lyons, spokesperson for Unite Here, said the union expects workers “will be made whole” for the days they were locked out.

The Kinzie Hotel, a 210-room property at 20 W. Kinzie St., on Saturday prevented 13 union workers from reporting for duty and warned they may be fired. The workers had taken part in informational picketing the previous day outside of their work hours.

Hotel General Manager Karen Criss praised the agreement in an email. “We are happy that the Union agreed to many of our changes that we proposed to improve the work lives of our employees. We look forward to having a closer working relationship with the Union,” she wrote.

Unite Here had called the lockout illegal. It organized a Labor Day rally for the workers that drew leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor and other supporters.

“I’m grateful to everyone who stood with us during this lockout. Today we return to work with justice being served. My colleagues and I are eager to return to the work that we love so much,” Jose Sanchez, an employee at Kinzie for 16 years, said in a comment provided by Unite Here.

The union said the contract, like the others it has negotiated, calls for a $25 per hour minimum wage for nontipped workers while preserving health care coverage and strengthening pensions.

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