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O’Hare restaurant workers vote to authorize strike

Concession stand at O'Hare Airport. | Sun-Times Library

Restaurant and concessions workers at O’Hare Airport voted on Thursday to authorize a strike for more affordable health insurance and higher wages.

More than 1,200 bartenders, baristas, cooks, servers and other workers represented by Unite Here Local 1 voted in favor of authorizing the possibility of a strike by 84 percent, according to union spokesman Noah Carson-Nelson.

The vote authorizes the union’s negotiating committee to call for “job actions, up to and including a strike,” at any point in its negotiations with HMSHost International, according to a statement from Unite Here Local 1. There is no current date set for a strike.

“The real push is for affordable and quality health insurance and health care, as well as wages,” Carson-Nelson said.

HMSHost operates venues at the airport including Starbucks, Chili’s, The Publican Tavern, Wolfgang Puck Express and Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera. The workers’ contract with HMSHost expired in August, according to the union.

“HMSHost and Unite Here Local 1 are currently in negotiations for a new contract,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to reaching an agreement soon. In the meantime, we continue to be focused on serving travelers, and all our restaurants will be staffed and open for business.”

Contract negotiations between Unite Here Local 1 and HMSHost were next scheduled for Dec. 14, according to the union.