In June 2013 Karen Kent was installed as President of UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union. She is the first woman in the century-long history of Local 1 to be elected President.
Karen got her start in the hospitality industry more than 20 years ago, working as a server at various restaurants and hotels across the country. In the late 1980s, as a banquet server and union committee at the Holiday Inn in Palo Alto, California, she began organizing the union. Since that time, Karen has led campaigns with UNITE HERE across the country in California, Las Vegas, New York City, Dallas, Chicago and beyond. Before serving as President, she was elected Executive Vice President of Local 1 in 2007.
During her tenure with Local 1, Karen has played a key role in leading the transformation of Local 1 into a dynamic organization that has achieved significant victories on behalf of working people in Chicago. In the last decade, Local 1 has organized thousands of new workers in to the union and doubled wages for housekeepers and other hotel workers in Chicago’s hospitality industry.
Executive Vice President
In June 2013 Lou Weeks was elected Executive Vice President of UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union. In addition to being the Executive Vice President, Lou servers as Local 1’s Staff Director.
Lou got his start in the labor movement as a student support of UNITE HERE Locals34 and 35 at Yale University. After graduation in 1988, Lou was hired as an organizer by Local 34 where he led contract campaigns for secretaries and technicians at Yale.
In 2004, Lou transferred to Chicago where he began organizing non-union hotel workers, leading campaigns that enabled hotel workers at Westin River North and the Amalfi Hotel to join the union. Following his organizing success in the hotel industry in Chicago, Lou worked as an organizing director at Local 1, helping lead the Local Hyatt campaign and contract drives for workers in the regional food service industry. During that time, Lou played a key role in helping thousands of service workers at O’Hare Airport, area university cafeterias and hotels in low-wage service-sector jobs secure decent wages and affordable family health insurance.
Lou is the proud father of Calvin and Ab. He lives in Berwyn.
Dannie Li, Treasurer
Brenda Clavelle-Ross, Secretary, Palmer House
Buddy Broniar, Vice President
Andrea Sotelo, Vice President
Jeri Elliot, Vice President, Majestic Star
Emad Menias, Vice President, Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Mario Bustamante, Vice President, Navy Pier
Boddrick Barnes, Vice President, HMS Host
Bertha McGee, Vice President, McCormick Place
Yohannes Gezu, Executive Board, Sheraton
Roberto Isla, Executive Board, Gate Gourmet
Louise Babbs, Executive Board, Chicago Public Schools
Cecilia Leiva, Executive Board, Hyatt Regency
Jesus Morales, Executive Board, Drake Hotel
Latonia Marshall, Executive Board, Blackstone Hotel