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 www.unitehere1.org/WeDeserveBetter.

“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
ncarsonnelson@unitehere1.org

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

No Contract for O’Hare Restaurant Workers Yet: Holiday Travelers Advised to be Prepared for a Strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 15, 2017
Contact: Noah Carson-Nelson
ncarsonnelson@unitehere1.org

No Contract for O’Hare Restaurant Workers Yet
Holiday Travelers Advised to be Prepared for a Strike

 CHICAGO, IL – HMSHost International and UNITE HERE Local 1 remain far apart on key issues after a negotiation session on December 14th. The contract negotiations affects more than 1200 people who work as bartenders, Starbucks baristas, cooks among other classifications at O’Hare International Airport.

“The company is proposing temporary solutions to permanent problems,” said Tamekah Shivers, a Starbucks barista at HMSHost and union negotiating committee member.

The union advises holiday travelers to be prepared for disrupted services at O’Hare restaurants, bars and Starbucks kiosks. Last week, HMSHost workers voted in favor to authorize the union negotiating committee to call a strike at any time.

UNITE HERE is hand-billing locally and in airports across the country to alert holiday travelers to a possible strike of O’Hare restaurant workers. Sample handbill can be found here.

The next negotiations are scheduled on January 11, 2018

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

 

Restaurant Workers, Starbucks Baristas at O’Hare Airport Vote to Strike

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 7, 2017
Contact: Noah Carson-Nelson
ncarsonnelson@unitehere1.org

Restaurant Workers, Starbucks Baristas at O’Hare Airport Vote to Strike
After months of working under an expired contract, workers for HMSHost at O’Hare Airport authorize their
Union Negotiating Committee to call a strike at any time

CHICAGO, IL – On Thursday, December 7, food concessions workers Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport
voted to authorize the union negotiating committee to call for job actions, up to and including a strike. Workers
are members of UNITE HERE Local 1, employed by HMSHost International, and have been working under an
expired contract since August 2017.

They hope to settle a contract with HMSHost which includes quality, affordable health insurance and an end to
poverty wages at O’Hare before the Christmas holiday. This vote affects more than 1,200 people who work as
baristas, cooks, servers, bussers, and bartenders, among other classifications at Starbucks, Wolfgang Puck
Express, The Publican Tavern (a One Off Hospitality brand), Summer House Santa Monica (a Lettuce
Entertain You Enterprises brand), Chili’s Grill & Bar, and Tortas Frontera (a Rick Bayless Brand) among
others.

“It’s time to come together and stand up for our health and our families.” Said Tamekah Shivers, a Barista at a
Starbucks store at O’Hare, “I have to sacrifice to get the healthcare I need, I catch myself wondering: How am I
paying my bills? How am I getting food for my kids? I refuse to sacrifice like that anymore.” About 230 people
work at 17 HMSHost Starbucks stores in O’Hare Airport. 81% of baristas at HMSHost make less than the
Airport Minimum Wage of $13.45 per hour, though this minimum wage does not currently apply to
HMSHost.(1)

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

  • 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
  • 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

“Our members provide world class hospitality at one of the busiest airports in the country.” says Karen Kent,
President of UNITE HERE Local 1. “They serve Chicagoans and travelers from all over the world everyday—
that warrants a fair wage, respect, and good, affordable healthcare. We are proud to stand with HMSHost workers
as they fight for what they deserve.”

“We’ve had enough of poverty wages, unaffordable healthcare, and disrespect from our managers and HMSHost,
if it takes a strike to win a good contract, we’re ready.” Said Boddrick Barnes, a cook at Macaroni Grill at
O’Hare.

Contract negotiations between HMSHost and UNITE HERE Local 1are next scheduled for December 14.

(1) The Mayor’s Executive Order which establishes the Airport Minimum Wage applies to City of Chicago contracts advertised
on or after October 1, 2014 Executive Order No. 2014-01.  

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UNITE HERE Local 1 represents about 3,700 food service workers at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway
International Airports. Additional results from survey referenced can be found at www.unitehere1.org/WeDeserveBetter

“NO HARVEY HOTELS IN CHICAGO”

Media Advisory for November 14, 2017

CONTACT: 
Sarah Lyons
312-385-0603
slyons@unitehere.org

City Leaders and hospitality workers to kick-off implementation of new law to protect Chicago hotel workers from sexual harassment and assault

Chicago, IL – Tuesday, November 14, City Clerk Anna Valencia and UNITE HERE Local 1 will hold a cake-cutting ceremony with Chicago hotel workers to kick-off the implementation of the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance, the City’s new law to protect Chicago hotel workers from sexual harassment and assault.noharveys

The ceremony will begin at 9am on the 2nd floor of City Hall with Clerk Anna Valencia serving as the honorary cake cutter. The cake will read “NO HARVEYS IN CHICAGO” and feature the face of Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, with a red X.  The Chicago City Council unanimously approved the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance on October 11, as news of the allegations against Harvey Weinstein broke.

The passage of the landmark legislation places Chicago at the fore of a national conversation about workplace sexual harassment. Spearheaded by the Chicago Federation of Labor and Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward), the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance requires Chicago hotels to provide panic buttons to hotel workers who work alone in guest rooms and rest rooms, protects hotel workers from retaliation when they report sexual violence by guests, and requires hotels to implement an anti-sexual harassment policy. A 2016 survey conducted by UNITE HERE Local 1 of 487 women working in the Chicagoland hospitality industry found that 58% of Chicago hotel workers surveyed said they had been sexually harassed by a guest.[i]

WHAT: “Hands Off Pants On: No Harvey Hotels in Chicago” Kick-Off and Cake-Cutting

WHEN: Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 9 a.m.

WHERE: Podium outside Chicago City Council Chambers, 121 N. LaSalle Dr., 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60602

WHO:   Anna Valencia, City Clerk of Chicago
Karen Kent, President of UNITE HERE Local 1
Chicago hotel workers

VISUALS: T-shirts and ceremonial cake featuring “NO HARVEYS IN CHICAGO” with face of Hollywood mogul, Harvey Weinstein, with a red X. Preview available here: http://bit.ly/2m9X20a

 

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

 

[i] https://www.handsoffpantson.org/wp-content/uploads/HandsOffReportWeb.pdf

As News Continues to Unfold in Hollywood About Allegations of Sexual Assault Against Film Studio Executive Harvey Weinstein, Chicago City Council Passes an Ordinance to Protect Chicago Hotel Workers from Sexual Harassment and Assault

Ordinance will help ensure hotel workers have panic buttons and other safety measures to protect against sexual violence by guests

CONTACT:
Nora Cay Ryan                                                                          Sarah Lyons
Chicago Federation of Labor                                                     UNITE HERE Local 1
847‐826‐2061                                                                            312-385-0603
ncryan@chicagolabor.org                                                         slyons@unitehere.org

For Immediate Release
October 11, 2017

(CHICAGO, IL) Today, the Chicago City Council voted unanimously to pass the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance to protect Chicago hotel workers, the majority of whom are women of color and immigrants, from sexual harassment and assault. As stories surface that Hollywood film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein allegedly harassed and sexually assaulted several women for decades, this city ordinance now leads the national conversation in a hopeful direction.22181528_10155671314297305_8119407904543080673_o

“This is a significant step forward in the fight against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace,” said Chicago Federation of Labor President Jorge Ramirez. “Unfortunately, it is a step in only one industry. As we have seen in our national news, there is more work to be done to protect workers across all industries. Every day, the labor movement fights for every worker’s right to a safe and secure work environment. The CFL and our affiliated unions are committed to continuing the fight against sexual harassment and abuse in all industries. I hope other cities follow suit and look at ways to help keep their workers safe.”

The Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1 worked with 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris to develop the language for the ordinance. The ordinance covers all Chicago hotel workers, both union and non-union, requiring hotels to provide panic buttons to anyone who works alone in guest rooms and restrooms. The ordinance also protects hotel workers from retaliation when they report sexual violence by guests and mandates hotels to implement an anti-sexual harassment policy.

“This is a historic day for our union, for women working in Chicago hotels, and for our City,” said Karen Kent, President of UNITE HERE Local 1. “With this vote to approve the ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance, Chicago will be known not only for world-class hospitality, but also as a place that supports women who speak out about sexual harassment and assault. This law will protect thousands of immigrants and women of color who form the backbone of the hospitality industry, making Chicago a leader in the fight against workplace sexual violence.  As the news emerges out of Hollywood, I hope that what we have accomplished here in Chicago empowers more women to break the ‘Sisterhood of Silence’ and come forward. ”

Alderman Harris introduced the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance in April 2017 after a survey of 487 women working in Chicagoland hotels and casinos revealed wide-spread sexual harassment by hotel guests. The survey findings were published in a report by UNITE HERE Local 1 in October 2016. The survey found:

  • 58 percent of hotel workers surveyed said they had been sexually harassed by a guest.
  • 49 percent of hotel housekeepers surveyed said guests had exposed themselves, flashed them or answered the door naked.

“I’m proud and humbled to have helped make this ordinance a reality today,” stated Alderman Harris. “These workers are our friends and neighbors and deserve to feel safe at their jobs.”

Cecilia, a Chicago hotel worker, added, “It can be hard to speak out about sexual harassment. I’m so happy that the City of Chicago is listening and standing up for women like me. Knowing I will have a panic button and that I can call for help brings a huge sense of relief. I can’t wait to go back to work and share the news that the City of Chicago has our backs!”

# # # 

The Chicago Federation of Labor is the third‐largest central labor council of the AFL‐CIO in the United States representing approximately 300 local unions comprised of over half a million union members in Chicago and Cook County.

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

 

Ordinance to Protect Chicago Hotel Workers from Sexual Harassment and Assault Passes the Committee on Workforce Development, Advances to full City Council

CONTACT:
Nora Cay Ryan                                                                              Sarah Lyons
Chicago Federation of Labor                                                     UNITE HERE Local 1
847‐826‐2061                                                                                312-385-0603
ncryan@chicagolabor.org                                                          slyons@unitehere.org

For Immediate Release
October 2, 2017

Ordinance to Protect Chicago Hotel Workers from Sexual Harassment and Assault Passes the Committee on Workforce Development, Advances to full City Council

Ordinance will help ensure hotel workers have panic buttons and other safety measures to protect against sexual violence by guests

(CHICAGO, IL) Today, the Committee on Workforce Development, chaired by 40th Ward Alderman Patrick O’Connor, recommended approval of the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance to protect Chicago hotel workers, the majority of whom are women of color and immigrants, from sexual harassment and assault. With the Committee’s recommendation for approval, the ordinance will advance to the full City Council for a vote on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

The Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1 worked with Alderman Harris to develop the ordinance. The ordinance covers all Chicago hotel workers, whether union or non-union, and requires hotels to provide panic buttons to housekeepers and other hotel workers who work alone in guest rooms and restrooms. The ordinance also protects hotel workers from retaliation when they report sexual violence by guests and requires hotels to implement an anti-sexual harassment policy.

Alderman Harris introduced the “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance in April 2017 after a survey of 487 women working in Chicagoland hotels and casinos revealed wide-spread sexual harassment by hotel guests. The survey findings were published in a report[i] by UNITE HERE Local 1 in October 2016. The survey found:

  • 58 percent of hotel workers surveyed said they had been sexually harassed by a guest.
  • 49 percent of hotel housekeepers surveyed said guests had exposed themselves, flashed them or answered the door naked.

The following quotes were included in today’s testimony.

“No one should ever have to know what this kind of abuse feels like. Unfortunately, these issues are not confined to this industry; it happens to women across all industries. Every day, the labor movement fights for dignity and respect in the workplace, and we fight for every worker’s right to a safe and secure work environment. The CFL is here today to stand with hotel workers and to let this committee know that we are committed to fighting sexual harassment and abuse in all industries.”
–        Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor

“I’m proud and humbled to have helped make this ordinance a reality today. These workers are our friends and neighbors and deserve to feel safe at their jobs.”
–        Alderman Michelle Harris, 8th Ward

“Having a panic button would make me feel safer. To know I can easily call for help if something happens would be such a relief. I’m here today not just for myself but for my co-workers. We deserve to be treated with respect and to feel safe at work.”
–        Cecilia, a Chicago hotel worker

“Today’s advancement of the ‘Hands Off Pants On’ ordinance brings us one step closer to breaking the silence, shame and stigma around sexual violence in the workplace. The ordinance creates urgently needed protections for Chicago hotel workers; for the immigrants, the women of color, the people who clean, cook, and serve for our city every day.”
–        Karen Kent, President of UNITE HERE Local 1, the hospitality workers union

“While progress has been made, thanks to the work of courageous survivors and the determined advocacy of groups like Women Employed, sexual harassment continues to be a barrier to women’s economic advancement. In the case of those women doing low-wage work, the stakes are often higher, leaving them particularly vulnerable and forcing them to choose between their families’ livelihoods and their safety, health and dignity. It’s a choice no worker should have to make.”
–        Sharmili Majmudar, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Women Employed

# # #

The Chicago Federation of Labor is the third‐largest central labor council of the AFL‐CIO in the United States representing approximately 300 local unions comprised of over half a million union members in Chicago and Cook County.

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

Founded in 1973, Women Employed’s mission is to improve women’s economic status and remove barriers to economic equity.

Hotel Monaco Workers Ratify First Contract

monaco-picFor Immediate Release
June 16, 2017
Contact: Elliott Mallen, 312-656-5807
emallen@unitehere.org

Hotel Monaco Workers Ratify First Contract

Hotel housekeepers at the downtown Hotel Monaco today unanimously ratified their first collective bargaining agreement. The five-year accord covering thirty workers comes nearly three years after workers first began organizing a union at the hotel.

The contract includes most standard provisions of downtown hotel contracts. Notably, workers will receive full-family health insurance for only $30 per month by 2019, and will in the meantime receive annual bonuses to help cover health insurance costs.

“I’m very excited to finally have a contract,” said Maria Alvarado, a room attendant at the hotel for 17 years. “I hope other non-union hotel workers see what we’ve accomplished by organizing, and join us too.”

Workers won a hotly contested NLRB election in December 2015, and had been negotiating a contract since. The settlement comes as unionized workers at Pineapple Hospitality’s Hotel Alise (formerly Hotel Burnham) continue to negotiate their first contract.

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Housekeepers Rally for Affordable Healthcare at the Hotel Burnham

For immediate release
July 8, 2016
Contact: Jordan Fein
(312) 576-5048
jfein@unitehere.org

Housekeepers Rally for Affordable Healthcare at the Hotel Burnham

Workers at hotel owned by $39 billion private equity firm Lone Star Funds rely on public aid for family healthcare

CHICAGO– After overwhelmingly voting to unionize, housekeepers at the Hotel Burnham are holding a rush hour downtown demonstration for improvements to health insurance. Workers are calling on Lone Star Funds, the private equity giant that owns the hotel, to provide affordable healthcare for families currently relying on public aid for basic coverage.

Housekeepers from the Burnham and other downtown hotels will rally outside the hotel (1 W. Washington St) at 4:30 pm on Friday. The workers are demanding the hotel agree to a union contract with the same affordable family health care and other benefits provided to union members at other Chicago hotels.

“My husband and I don’t have health insurance because the hotel’s plan is too expensive, and my children Angel and Angela are on public aid,” said housekeeper Karina Tufino, who has worked for the Burnham for 10 years. “Why should taxpayers have to pay for my family’s insurance?”

According to a survey conducted by Local 1 in April 2016, 64 percent of Burnham housekeepers, or 7 of 11 surveyed, relied on public aid to provide health care to their children. The Burnham’s most affordable family health plan can cost an employee over $9,000 annually in premiums and deductibles. Most unionized hotel workers pay $360 per year for BlueChoice family health care, or $30 per month and no annual deductible.

Burnham housekeepers and allies held a rally in October 2015 questioning what management had done to reduce physical stressors for housekeepers. Last fall, a survey of Burnham housekeepers found that all respondents reported experiencing pain at work. 63% of surveyed housekeepers said that their pain has prevented them from participating in family activities.

Lone Star Funds, the hotel’s owner, had $39.6 billion in assets under management as of April 2016. Lone Star has faced scrutiny for buying distressed home mortgages from government entities and then foreclosing on borrowers. Senator Elizabeth Warren has pressured the agencies to stop selling the loans to banks and funds that “were responsible for fueling the housing bubble in the first place—leading to the crash that hit these families like a punch to the gut.”

The Burnham is operated by Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Intimidation by Kimpton managers at the Burnham and Monaco hotels prompted the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board to file complaints against the company in April 2015 and January 2016. The Burnham continues to face prosecution by the NLRB General Counsel for firing server Evan Demma two weeks after he participated in a union protest.

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UNITE HERE Local 1 represents over 6,500 hotel workers in downtown Chicago.

At Rainbow PUSH Conference, UNITE HERE Local 1 Urges Chicago: Rename McCormick Square

For immediate release
June 28, 2016
Contact: Noah Carson-Nelson
ncarsonnelson@unitehere1.org

At Rainbow PUSH Conference, UNITE HERE Local 1 Urges Chicago: Rename McCormick Square 

Kent at Rainbow PUSH

Kent at Rainbow PUSH

Citing Robert McCormick’s persistent xenophobia, the hospitality workers union calls on the MPEA to reconsider the title “McCormick Square” for Chicago’s Newest Neighborhood

CHICAGO– This morning, at the Annual International Convention of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, UNITE HERE Local 1 President Karen Kent urged Chicago to reconsider naming the city’s newest neighborhood after Robert R. McCormick. Local 1 represents more than 800 people who work at locations in the neighborhood recently dubbed “McCormick Square” by the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA).

Kent stated that “as a Chicagoan, I will be damned in hell if I allow any neighborhood in Chicago where our union members work to be named, in 2016, after Trump’s forefather – Robert McCormick.” Kent’s speech can be read in its entirety here.

In April of this year, Lori Healy, CEO of the MPEA, announced the creation of the “McCormick Square” neighborhood around McCormick Place Convention Center. The neighborhood runs from the Green Line east to Lake Michigan, and from 21st Street south to the Stevenson.

Robert McCormick was head of the Chicago Tribune for much of the first half of the 20th century, as well as an advocate for a Chicago convention center. While McCormick was editor-in-chief, Tribune editorials included such statements as “Mexican immigration is bound in time to lower the American standard of living.”

Kent explained that the union is “not proposing that we change the name of our convention center or this hotel” but that “shamefully, today’s convention center authority wants to repeat the mistake it made in 1960.”

“It’s disrespectful that Chicago would name a whole neighborhood after a man that said such hateful things about people of color,” said Barb Maggos, a bartender at Savor at McCormick Place. “We welcome people from all over the world to Chicago— what are visitors from China or Mexico going to think if our city honors a racist in 2016? The MPEA should rename this new neighborhood.”

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Learn more about the campaign to rename McCormick Square at www.nomoremccormick.org.

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

Hotel Burnham Housekeeping Department Wins Union

BurnhamContact: Jordan Fein
(312) 576-5048
jfein@unitehere.org

Chicago – Workers in the Hotel Burnham’s housekeeping department yesterday voted overwhelmingly to join UNITE HERE Local 1. The vote comes after over a year of picket lines, rallies and other actions, and despite vigorous management intimidation that compelled the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board to file two complaints against the hotel.

Burnham housekeepers are now calling on Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group to immediately recognize the union and begin bargaining. The workers are hoping the hotel will quickly agree to the same wages, health insurance, job protections and other benefits already enjoyed by union workers at Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro and Hotel Palomar.

“My general manager told me I would lose benefits if I voted for the union, but I knew she wasn’t telling me the truth,” said Karina Tufino, who has worked as a housekeeper at the Burnham for 10 years. “I voted for the union because I want a better life for my family, and I am proud of my coworkers for standing strong together through this fight.”

The Hotel Burnham is owned by Lone Star Funds, a private equity company with $38 billion in assets under management as of February 2016.

“Lone Star Funds should tell Kimpton to settle a contract now,” said Silverio Arenas, a houseman at the Burnham. “I’ve worked at this hotel for 15 years, and I shouldn’t have to wait any longer for the same benefits provided to Allegro and Palomar workers.”

Following the vote, all of Kimpton’s Chicago hotels are now unionized. Room attendants at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco voted overwhelmingly to join Local 1 last December, and will begin negotiating on April 12. Burnham housekeeping workers are hoping to join Monaco workers on April 12 to facilitate a quick settlement at both hotels.

The Hotel Burnham and Atwood Restaurant continues to face prosecution by the NLRB General Counsel for firing server Evan Demma two weeks after he participated in a union protest.

Intimidation by Kimpton managers at the Burnham and Monaco prompted the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board to file complaints against Kimpton in April 2015 and January 2016.

UNITE HERE Local 1 represents over 6,500 hotel workers in downtown Chicago.