Hotel Workers Stage ‘Wildcat’ Strike in Chicago

Jeremy Gantz

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.

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Jeremy Gantz is an In These Times contributing editor working at Time magazine.

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