CHICAGO -- Striking Chicago hotel workers left their picket lines Thursday afternoon for a rally and march up Michigan Avenue.
Workers from 25 hotels walked out last Friday and workers at a 26th hotel joined in the strike earlier this week.
The rally started at Ogden Park Plaza near the Sheraton and the workers marched down Michigan Avenue north to Oak Street cheering and chanting.
They are asking for year-round health insurance for workers who are laid off during slower months. The union is also fighting for higher wages, manageable workloads and sick days to see a doctor.
Hyatt released a statement saying:
We are disappointed that UNITE HERE Local 1 has chosen to strike at this early stage. Hyatt and Local 1 are not at an impasse on any issue. In fact, Hyatt and Local 1 conducted previously scheduled negotiation sessions this week, and the union is still reviewing Hyatt’s proposal and responses. Colleague benefits and wages remain unchanged as we negotiate a new agreement.
Our colleagues are the heart of our business, and we respect their right to voice their opinions. Many colleagues are working, and Hyatt hotels continue their operations and commitment to outstanding guest experiences.
Hyatt has a long history of strong labor relations. Hyatt and UNITE HERE have already come to agreements this year in other markets, and we will continue negotiating in good faith in Chicago for a fair contract.
Hyatt hotels in Chicago, like those across the country, offer competitive wages and benefits to our colleagues, including comprehensive healthcare, various wellbeing initiatives and generous retirement contributions. We remain committed to fostering a safe, inclusive workplace that earns an average colleague tenure of more than 12 years and consistent recognition, including Hyatt’s No. 9 ranking on FORTUNE’s most recent Best Companies to Work For® list. Our purpose is to care for people so they can be their best, and the wellbeing of our colleagues is our first priority.
A spokesperson for Hilton also sent a statement saying:
The comfort and satisfaction of our guests remain our top priorities. We're staffing in a number of ways to ensure service runs smoothly. For example, we've had the benefit of our managers from around the country as well as our local Chicago hotels take on the roles of housekeeper, server and doorman. More and more of our union Team Members are choosing to return to work and we welcome them to do so.
It is still early in the negotiations process and Hilton is committed to negotiating in good faith with UNITE HERE Local 1. We look forward to an agreement that is fair to our valued Team Members and to our hotels.
At least two conferences have been moved to different venues because of the strike.