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Organized Labor

Workers ratify new contract with 7 downtown hotels; strike drags on at 19 more

Hotel workers on strike chant, “no contract, no peace!” during a rally across from The Drake Hotel. | Max Herman/For the Sun-Times

After nearly two weeks on the picket line, workers at seven downtown Marriott hotels are set to return to the job after ratifying a new contract on Thursday.

Employees at 19 other hotels remain on strike, as they have since Sept. 7.

“On behalf of striking members of Unite Here Local 1, we wish to thank the members of the Chicago Building Trades, the Teamsters, the Elevator Constructors, and the Chicago Federation of Labor for honoring our picket lines,” union president Karen Kent said in a statement.

Marriott officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Details of the new contract were not immediately released, but a statement from Mayor Rahm Emanuel indicated the workers have gained year-round health care, which has been the main sticking point in negotiations. Under the previous contract, which expired at the end of August, workers classified as full-time could still lose benefits if they were laid off during the slow winter months.

MORE: Hotel guests getting an earful from striking workers

Workers have also sought wage increases, heightened job security, pensions and sick days.

Emanuel commended the union and the hotel chain “for staying at the table, working in good faith and reaching an agreement that reflects their shared interests.

“This agreement is a significant step forward for the union, the hotels and the city and I am confident it can light a path forward to ending the labor action at other hotels in the city,” Emanuel said.

Most of the 26 affected hotels have stayed open as close to 6,000 workers went on strike at the tail end of Chicago’s busy summer travel season. About 2,000 of the strikers marched through the Loop last week.

Union officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the status of negotiations at the 19 hotels where the work stoppage continues.

Here’s where hotel employees are heading back to work:
W City Center
W Lakeshore
Westin Michigan Avenue
Westin River North
JW Marriott
Hotel Blake

Here’s where the strike continues:
Ambassador Chicago
Cambria Magnificent Mile
Crowne Plaza Hotel Chicago-Metro
Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile
Drake Hotel
Hampton Inn / Homewood Suites Magnificent Mile
Hilton Chicago
Holiday Inn Mart Plaza
Hyatt Regency Chicago
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place
Inn of Chicago
Kimpton Hotel Allegro
Kimpton Hotel Palomar
Kinzie Hotel
Millennium Knickerbocker
Palmer House
Ritz-Carlton Chicago
Warwick Allerton
Wyndham Grand

Here’s where the union says there “could be a strike at any time”:
Fairmont Chicago
Hotel Raffaello
Park Hyatt Chicago
Tremont Chicago Hotel at Magnificent Mile

Disclosure notice: Some labor organizations have ownership stakes in Sun-Times Media, including the Chicago Federation of Labor, which is affiliated with Unite Here Local 1.