Jermaine Gillen: Marching in Memphis to Make History


Jermaine, a shop steward at the Ambassador Chicago, has worked there as a housekeeping supervisor for 13 years. Jermaine travelled to Memphis with Local 1 to make history and march in the same steps as Dr. King and the sanitation workers.

Q: How has the trip impacted you?
A: 50 years after being given a glimpse of what a better life could be like, it’s still only a vision. We are still fighting for a living wage and healthcare. We have seen the vision, but we, the unions across the nation, are still fighting to bring it to life. We no longer want a glimpse of what can be seen through the door of injustice and inequality, but we are now here to remove that door and take what’s ours!

Q: What was a highlight from Memphis?
A: The highlight of going to Memphis was hearing Dr. King’s daughter deliver a speech on the injustice and inequalities that are still alive today in American society and workforce.

Q: How has being a union leader changed your life?
A: Being an involved leader has made me aware of different people’s lives and situations. I’ve learned to listen and teach people about how to fight for each other and themselves. There is power in numbers. I realized we all want the same opportunity to have better working conditions and wages.

Jermaine is now working to make sure that his coworkers who work alone in guest rooms or restrooms will be equipped with panic buttons by July 1, 2018. In his free time, he enjoys biking, spending time with his family, and being an active member of his church.

Constitutionality of Chicago Airport Security Rules Called Into Question Following Overreach by Department of Aviation

UNITE HERE Local 1 Member Files Challenge to Citation by CDA & CPD

For Release January 19, 2018
Media Contact: Noah Carson-Nelson

CHICAGO, IL – On Thursday, January 18, UNITE HERE Local 1 member Justice Castillo, by attorneys Tom Durkin and Robin Waters of Durkin & Roberts, filed a motion to challenge a citation issued by the Chicago Department of Aviation and the constitutionality of Chicago Municipal Code airport employee badging regulations.

Information on the challenge filing was brought to light today at an administrative hearing regarding a citation under the ordinance in question. Justice Castillo, a 22 year old Starbucks barista at HMSHost O’Hare Airport, was cited on December 21 for not properly supervising UNITE HERE Local 1 union organizers in a secure area of the airport as they cued workers for an upcoming strike; Justice is one of three HMSHost employees assigned to escort union organizers while they talk with union members inside O’Hare terminals. Police stopped Justice, took her security badge, and escorted Justice and the union organizers she was accompanying out of the airport. Justice’s security badge has been returned, but the citation could result in a fine.

A motion has been filed to challenge Justice’s citation and the constitutionality of the Chicago Municipal Code. As the citation was made at a key moment in an ongoing labor dispute, the motion contends that the issuance of the citation was a violation of Justice’s First Amendment rights; and that the citation also violated Justice’s rights under the National Labor Relations Act. The challenge to the Chicago Municipal Code asserts that §10-36-353(B) of the Code is overly vague in its description how employees who escort non-badged persons in the airport must “direct and control” those they are escorting at all times.

“This young woman was caught in the crossfire when she was cited for violation of an ordinance that we believe is fundamentally flawed. UNITE HERE will not be accepting any form of punishment for Justice.” Said Karen Kent, UNITE HERE Local 1 President. “We intend to challenge the constitutionality of this ordinance which we believe infringes upon Justice’s First Amendment rights to speech, assembly, and association.”

While HMSHost workers were on strike on December 21, CDA Commissioner Ginger Evans crossed the union picket line and tweeted a photo from inside O’Hare airport terminal restaurants and implied there was not a strike.

***** VISUAL: UNITE HERE Local 1 members waited outside Castillo’s January 18 CDA Administrative Hearing, wearing emerald green aprons which read “Justice at the Airport” and are screen printed with a picture of Justice Castillo.


UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 3,700 food service workers at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway International Airports, including more than 1200 servers, bartenders, Starbucks baristas, and other restaurant workers employed by HMSHost. HMSHost does not currently have a contract with UNITE HERE Local 1.



National Labor Relations Board charges Hyatt Regency Chicago over video surveillance practices

Chicago’s largest hotel refuses to disclose information on its technologies used to track workers and guests

CHICAGO, IL – The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the Hyatt Regency Chicago this week for refusing to disclose information on its surveillance system. Hotel union UNITE HERE Local 1 requested this information in 2017 to determine whether hotel managers have used facial recognition or other tracking technologies to monitor hotel employees.

The NLRB charged that the Hyatt Regency Chicago has refused to disclose whether it has used facial recognition software in the past, and has refused to detail how it locates or tracks specific workers in the hotel. The hotel is required to respond to the complaint by January 26.

“We are very concerned that the Hyatt Regency Chicago has refused to say how it surveils and tracks hotel employees or guests,” said UNITE HERE Local 1 President Karen Kent. “Hyatt’s silence on this matter sets a dangerous precedent for other hotels in the city.”

Illinois state law bans the use biometric data, including a record of face geometry, without the subject’s consent. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that more than 50 lawsuits concerning the use of facial recognition software have been filed in Illinois since June 2017, according to K&L Gates LLP. The report did not indicate whether any of these suits is against the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

The 2,019-room Hyatt Regency Chicago is the largest hotel in the city of Chicago and employs roughly 800 members of UNITE HERE Local 1. The hotel is owned by corn product manufacturer Kato Kagaku Co. Ltd.

Press contact:
Elliott Mallen, UNITE HERE
(312) 656-5807


UNITE HERE Local 1 represents over 15,000 hospitality and food service workers in the City of Chicago and surrounding area.

(Press)Trabajadores de restaurantes en O’Hare hacen huelga para protestar

via Hoy: Los trabajadores de los restaurantes, bares y cafeterías del Aeropuerto Internacional O’Hare abandonaron el trabajo al mediodía el jueves, uno de los días de viaje más concurridos del año, para presionar por salarios más altos y cuidado de salud asequible. Los restaurantes del aeropuerto continuaron operando durante la huelga…

(Press) HMSHost restaurant workers go on strike today at O’Hare Airport

via Chicago Business Journal: A strike this afternoon by restaurant workers in Terminal 3 at Chicago O’Hare International Airport could result in a lot of hungry holiday air travelers…

(Press) Restaurant Workers Strike At Chicago’s O’Hare Airport

via NPR: Employees at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport’s restaurants, bars and coffee shops went on strike at noon Thursday. HMSHost tells the Chicago Sun-Times that the restaurants are open and “operating smoothly.” “Don’t get caught HANGRY!” warn the handbills the union has been passing out at airports across the country. “[M]ake sure you’re not impacted, pack a snack!”…

BREAKING: O’Hare Airport Bartenders, Cooks, other Restaurant Workers Strike

ohareCHICAGO, IL— O’Hare Airport restaurant workers employed by HMSHost International are on strike. Workers at some food service outlets walked off the job in an effort to gain affordable, quality healthcare as a part of a new union contract.

Striking workers, who are Starbucks baristas, servers, cooks, and other restaurant workers, are picketing HMSHost outside airport terminals.

The last negotiating session between HMSHost and UNITE HERE Local 1 was December 14, after which the union and company remained far apart on key issues.

A survey by UNITE HERE of 375 HMSHost workers at O’Hare found:

  • 42% of HMSHost workers surveyed say they do not enroll in insurance plans HMSHost offers because they cannot afford it.
  • 1 in 3 HMSHost workers surveyed report that they, their spouse, or a child rely on a government program for healthcare coverage
  • 1 in 4 HMSHost workers surveyed said that in the past year, a family member had not received doctor’s care, prescription medications, or other medical treatment because the family needed the money to buy food, clothing, or pay for housing

More results from this survey and HMSHost workers’ reasons for needing quality, affordable healthcare can be found at

“My coworkers and I need a contract that protects our health, our jobs, and our families. We are going to keep up the pressure on HMSHost until we get it,” said Boddrick Barnes, a cook at HMSHost and union negotiating committee member.

Contact: Noah Carson-Nelson


UNITE HERE Local 1 represents about 3,700 food service workers at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway International Airports.