Protest and Public Art: Women in Hospitality Petition CBS to Air Anti-Sexual Harassment Ad

Sarah Lyons

Waitresses, housekeepers and cocktail servers among group to demonstrate in Daley Plaza after CBS Chicago’s refusal to air the #ComeForward TV ad

CHICAGO — Today, dozens of waitresses, housekeepers and cocktail servers lined the perimeter of Daley Plaza: “He was just flirting,” “She was in a bar, what do you expect?” “It’s just how guys are,” and other commonly heard excuses for sexual harassment were emblazoned across the women’s poster boards.

The women, many of whom are represented by UNITE HERE Local 1, hope the public art project will call attention to CBS Chicago’s refusal to air the #ComeForward TV ad about sexual harassment. As a part of the demonstration, the group delivered a petition to CBS studios across from Daley Plaza calling on the network air the #ComeForward ad.

“When I was a waitress, a customer older than my father tried to make a move on me,” said Local 1 President Karen Kent, in remarks outside the network’s studios. “I was disgusted and ashamed. I never said anything because I thought people would question or blame me – and I want to change that for young women.”

The ad, produced by UNITE HERE Local 1, denounces State Rep. Moylan’s response to a waitress reporting sexual harassment at Rivers Casino and has generated over half a million total views on social media.

“Rep. Moylan condoned sexual harassment when he laughed after that waitress shared her story and now CBS is doing it by refusing to air the #ComeForward ad,” said Carla Smith, a banquet server at the J.W. Marriott, who participated in the public art display in Daley Plaza. “This behavior is unacceptable. CBS should stop silencing women’s stories of sexual harassment.”

Said Kent, “We’re going to make sure more young women see the #ComeForward ad and hear this message: If you speak up, we have your back.”


UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, represents over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago and casino workers in Northwest Indiana.