On Dec. 9, more than 100 hospitality workers who are members of UNITE HERE Local 1 in Chicago took part in a Town Hall meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Together they discussed working to grow Chicago’s tourism and convention business. The meeting marks the first time in UNITE HERE Local 1’s history that a Chicago mayor met with workers, and it was the first town hall meeting that Mayor Emanuel has held with any Chicago union.
“You and I have the same agenda,” Sheraton cocktail server Diane Chestnut told Mayor Emanuel. “We want people coming back.”
Diane, who shared a story with the Mayor about cooking soul food for singer Harry Belafonte, was just one Local 1 member who talked about going the extra mile for Chicago’s visitors. Kenneth Williams, a Doubletree bellman, told the Mayor how he helped a young man set up a romantic evening to propose to his girlfriend. Others highlighted the essential role that hospitality workers play wooing meeting planners and retaining convention business.
“We got a world class city, but the most important thing is that we have world class workers that can take care of our visitors and bring them back,” said Walter Underwood, a banquet server with 26 years of service at the Fairmont Hotel in Chicago.
Mayor Emanuel shared his own vision for hospitality and tourism in Chicago.
“People always tell me how beautiful the city is and how nice we are. And, I know you are the first contact…You are essential to that strategy,” said the Mayor.
Mayor Emanuel promised to return to meet with UNITE HERE Local 1 and work together to ensure the city’s hospitality industry thrives.
For more photos from the event, click here.