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Working In These Times

Wednesday, May 26, 2010, 1:46 pm

Hotel Workers Stage ‘Wildcat’ Strike in Chicago

BY Jeremy Gantz

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Guests at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago must have been surprised when they found a letter slipped under their doors this morning.

It was from hotel management, informing them that hundreds of unionized hotel employees—who have been working without a contract since September 2009—had suddenly walked off the job and that some amenities would be unavailable.

The stoppage was apparently triggered by Hyatt management's decision last week to bar union representatives from entering the hotel, but the main underlying issue is increased work loads for housekeepers. The more than 300 workers who picketed outside the hotel are members of Local 1 of UNITE-HERE, the national hotel and garment workers union.

For the full story, check out Adam Doster's piece at Progress Illinois (and his video inteview above), or this Chicago Breaking News article. And for anyone unfamiliar with the U.S. labor movement's grand—and now basically historical—tradition of wildcat strikes, there's background here and here. In a word: gutsy.

Jeremy Gantz is a contributing editor at the magazine. He is the editor of The Age of Inequality: Corporate America's War on Working People (2017, Verso), and was the Web/Associate Editor of In These Times from 2008 to 2012. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he worked as a reporter for The Cambodia Daily in 2007. After graduating from Carleton College in 2004, he lived in Sri Lanka on a Fulbright scholarship, studying the intersection of ethnic politics and public education. His articles have also appeared in Chicago-area newspapers, Alternet and the Onion’s A.V. Club.

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