Hyatt Worker: Why I Support the Chicago Teachers’ Strike

Hyatt workers are strongly supporting the Chicago Teachers Union in their fight for better schools. The fight of Hyatt workers and that of Chicago public school teachers is linked because Penny Pritzker, one of the leaders of the billionaire family which runs Hyatt, is also on the board of the Chicago Public Schools.

Here is Will Spain, Hyatt worker and Chicago Public School graduate, on why he supports the strike:

My name is Will Spain, and I am a Door Captain at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. I’ve worked at the Hyatt for 20 years, and I’ve lived in Chicago my whole life.

As a worker and union member, as well as a Chicago Public Schools graduate, I wholeheartedly support the teachers’ strike for better schools.

I grew up on the West Side of Chicago, and graduated from John Marshall Metro High School in 1989. When I was in school, textbooks were always a problem. School starts in September, and we wouldn’t get our books until February. The lack of textbooks in our schools has been a problem for decades. Textbooks for all students on the first day of school are just one of things the Chicago Teachers Union is fighting for.

The teachers and Hyatt workers, we’re both fighting for the same things. Decent wages and benefits. Equality and the ability to support our families. We’re tired of seeing big corporations take money away from real working people. The schools don’t have books but Hyatt got $5 million to build a non-union hotel in Hyde Park.

Despite the lack of resources, I had some great teachers at John Marshall Metro High School. One teacher in particular who had an impact on me was George Crockett, my history teacher. Mr. Crockett had also been a student at John Marshall.

I remember Mr. Crockett would say to me, “Education is your passport to the future.” He was my mentor, providing me with the guidance I needed to succeed in school. Without him I wouldn’t have made it.

And that’s exactly what the teachers in Chicago are doing today. They are not just educators; they are also filling the roles of counselors, social workers, and even parents. But, they should be able to just be teachers.

That’s why the stand taken by the Chicago Teachers Union is so important. It shouldn’t take 20 years for every school to have textbooks. The 30,000 teachers and school workers out on strike are fighting for better schools, and I’m with them all the way.

Chicago is a union town. All we want is our fair share. If we don’t all stand up as one, then one day the dream of big corporate interests will come true and we won’t have any share.