April 13, 2020
UNITE HERE Local 1 Calls on Chicago Hoteliers to Step Up for Hotel Workers
New report by Chicago’s hotel workers union estimates that lost earnings could cost Chicago neighborhoods $5 million every week
CHICAGO – UNITE HERE Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers’ union, has released a report, “Chicago Hotel Workers Stay Home, Save Lives – Without Pay,” documenting how the hotel industry’s decision to stop paying hotel workers during the COVID-19 pandemic could cost Chicago neighborhoods an estimated $5 million in lost earnings every week.
Hotel workers held a virtual rally this afternoon to call on hotel employers to do more to support laid off hotel workers.
While stimulus checks and unemployment benefits may provide some future relief, hotel workers needed to immediately find ways to keep food on the table while rent, mortgage payments and utility bills have come due.
“One day I was working, then all of a sudden I wasn’t. I felt like there was no regard for us – the people who make my hotel what it is,” said Latonia Marshall, a room attendant at the Blackstone Hotel. “These companies need to do more to support us.”
UNITE HERE Local 1 represents 7,600 hotel workers, of whom approximately 6,000 live in the City of Chicago, and almost all of them are out of work without pay. The union estimates that hotel workers who live in the ten South and West Side neighborhoods targeted by the City of Chicago’s forward-thinking INVEST South/West initiative could lose $1 million in earnings every week.
These losses follow record-breaking boom years for the Chicago hotel industry. Park Hotels & Resorts – with 2,467 hotel rooms in Chicago, they’re the city’s biggest hotel owner – announced on March 26 that it had $1.3 billion in cash and equivalents on hand – which it would use to pay a previously announced quarterly dividend to shareholders in April.