UNITE HERE launches app to help socially conscious travelers find union hotels

Patronizing union hotels supports family sustaining jobs, guarantees top notch service

Today, hospitality union UNITE HERE is launching a Union Hotel Guide App to make it easier for travelers to find union hotels. The Union Hotel Guide App lists approved union hotels and hotels where UNITE HERE members are on strike, boycotting, or there is a risk of dispute, guiding travelers to choose socially responsible hotels.

In union hotels workers earn decent wages, have safe working conditions and access to affordable healthcare. In many non-union hotels workers earn minimum wage with few or no benefits, have little job security and unsafe working conditions. For the thousands of people who work in the hospitality industry, having a union hotel job means the different between middle class jobs that sustain families and jobs that keep people in poverty.

 “Working in a union hotel means working one job instead of two jobs, so I can spend more time with my kids,” said Rosemary Johnson-Hoover, Allerton Hotel server.

The Union Hotel Guide App helps travelers avoid hotels that do not treat their workers fairly. Hyatt workers have launched a global boycott to end the company’s abuse of housekeepers. The global boycott impacts most of the hundreds of Hyatt properties nationwide. The Union Hotel Guide App makes clear which hotels are under boycott or at risk of dispute, including hundreds of Hyatt properties across North America.

“We called for a boycott because conditions at my hotel are bad and getting worse,” said Denise Edwards, Hyatt Century Plaza accounting department. “Now, customers have a new tool at their fingertips to find out which Hyatt Hotels nationwide to avoid.”

Strikes or boycotts could impact a guest’s quality of hotel service. Staying at a union hotel free of dispute guarantees that customers are going to receive top notch service and a better night’s sleep. When workers are treated fairly they are able to deliver excellent service that customers deserve.

The Union Hotel Guide App lists hotels in the United States and Canada where workers are represented by UNITE HERE, which represents more than 250,000 workers in the hospitality industry in North America.

Download the UNITE HERE Union Hotel Guide App to find union friendly hotels.

 

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UNITE HERE represents more than 250,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work in the hospitality, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, laundry, and airport industries.

New Majestic Star Casino owners lay off as many as 100 workers in Gary

Workers worried that more position cuts could be forthcoming

(CHICAGO) – The Majestic Star Casino & Hotel in Gary, Indiana have laid off as many as 100 employees without advance notice to workers. Laid off employees worked in departments throughout the casino, and some had worked at Majestic Star for as long as sixteen years.

While the casino told employees the layoffs were meant to improve efficiencies due to a change in guest volumes, admissions at Majestic Star over the past 12 months are actually up slightly from the year before.  Additionally, the Majestic Star Casino took in more than $200 million in gross receipts over the past year, making it the seventh highest grossing casino in Indiana.

Casinos like Majestic Star were approved by political leaders based on the promise they would bring stable jobs to hard-hit areas, such as Northwest Indiana. However, the layoffs come just before the holidays and at a particularly difficult time for casino workers and their families.

“I have bills to pay and a life to live. I was not prepared for this,” said Alisha Coleman who worked as a cook at Majestic Star for 12 years. “I don’t want to have to move in with my kids.”

Collective bargaining agreements covering around 1000 Northwest Indiana casino workers have recently expired. Contracts expired on October 31, 2012, around the time the firings began. Employees remain worried that more position cuts could be forthcoming.

The Majestic Star is controlled by Wayzata Investment Partners, a Minnesota-based investment firm that took over the casino in late 2011.

“These out of state owners who control billions are coming to Indiana and taking away our jobs,” added Coleman. “Wayzata Investment Partners are taking unfair advantage of the economy.”

 

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UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 15,000 hospitality workers and casino workers in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.

Members of Aviation Committee lead forum and City Hall action to press city leaders to lock in job protections for all Chicago airport workers

 (CHICAGO) – Today, members of the Chicago Aviation Committee are convening a community forum with religious leaders and hundreds of airport workers to press the City to adopt measures to protect hundreds of jobs in Chicago’s airports. In the next six months, more than 1,500 airport workers in Chicago could be thrown out of work or see their wages cut as the City undertakes a massive redevelopment of O’Hare and Midway Airports. Following the forum, workers and city leaders are marching to City Hall for an action to press leaders to protect airport jobs.  

Community leaders from across the city and of many faiths are participating in today’s event, including Bishop Alberto Rojas (Archdiocese of Chicago), Alderman Jason Ervin (28th Ward, the sponsor of the “Stable Jobs, Stable Airports” ordinance), Aviation Committee members John Arena (45th Ward), Tim Cullerton (38th Ward), Pat Dowell (3rd Ward), Willie Cochran (20th Ward), JoAnn Thompson (16th Ward), and Danny Solis (25th Ward). The forum is being led by William McNary, Citizen Action Illinois co-Director, and supporters are discussing the future of stable jobs for Chicago airport workers.

“I support the ordinance for stable jobs out at the airport because employees of the airport work hard, travel a long way, and they have families to feed,” said Alderman Willie Cochran (20th Ward). “We all need stability in our lives. It means strong families, and it means strong outcomes.”

Today’s event  is part of broader multi-year effort to secure a living wage and job protections for workers in Chicago’s airports. More than a year ago, city leaders introduced the “Stable Jobs, Stable Communities” ordinance which would ensure a smooth transition and a living wage for airport workers.  Such measures have been adopted in other major cities nationwide, but Chicago, thus far, has failed to implement such measures.

“I am a single mom with three boys: an eight year-old who has Downs syndrome, a five year-old, and three year-old who is a sickle cell carrier,” said O’Hare worker Tameka Shivers. “My job allows me to be independent and to take care of my boys, which is why I hope city leaders will put in place the protections we need to make sure my job is here to stay.”

Chicago’s hospitality workers live in every corner of the city – supporting local business, religious institutions, and communities. The job crisis in Chicago affects workers deeply, especially as Chicago communities confront challenges such as safety, foreclosures, and education.

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UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 15,000 hospitality workers and casino workers in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.

Contracts settled for 1200 HMS Host concession workers at O’Hare

(CHICAGO) – On Friday, October 19, 2012, members of UNITE HERE Local 1 who work at O’Hare Airport ratified a contract covering 1,200 HMS Host workers. This contract represents a significant commitment from HMS Host to provide quality and stable jobs for airport workers.

After four months of negotiations with HMS Host, workers settled new contracts that raise wages and give hundreds of workers without health insurance access to affordable healthcare. Highlights of the contract settlement include a wage scale that ensures every worker will be making a family supporting wage in the next five years. Additionally, the new contract has provisions that will significantly lower health care costs for all workers, which will enable workers to access health care coverage for as little as $4 a week. An overwhelming majority of workers voted to ratify the contract.

“Between the raises and the new affordable health care options, I can now get coverage that I couldn’t afford before,” said O’Hare worker Tameka Shivers. “I am a single mom with three boys: an eight year-old who has Downs syndrome, a five year-old, and three year-old who is a sickle cell carrier. This new contract allows me to be independent and know that I can take care of my boys.”

Airport workers greet thousands of guests who come to Chicago, but sadly for too long many workers have been living in poverty. This new contract will put millions of dollars into the pockets of working people and Chicago neighborhoods over the life of the contract.

“This is the best contract we have gotten from Host. It’s the biggest wage increase, and we now have affordable health insurance,” said O’Hare worker Boddrick Barnes. “Years ago, I was diagnosed with a heart condition, so having affordable health care is really important to me and my family.”

 

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UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 15,000 hospitality workers and casino workers in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana.

CPS Lunchroom Workers Join Support Rally at Solidarity School

UNITE HERE Local 1 lunchroom workers join community organizations at rally to highlight inequalities in public schools

On Monday, September 10, 2012, approximately 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked out on strike to continue their effort to create schools – and workplaces – that can provide the best education for our city’s children. UNITE HERE Local 1, which represents 3,200 lunchroom workers in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), stands strongly with the teachers. Though we are not on strike, we have been joining picket lines and rallies wherever possible.

What: Chicago Public School lunchroom workers will join Action Now at a press conference, rally, and march to show support for striking teachers. The press conference will be held at one of Action Now’s solidarity schools, and the march will be from the solidarity school to Penn Elementary.

Where: The Mirror Project (location of Action Now solidarity school), 1847 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago, IL

Who: CPS lunchroom workers, Action Now members, and community supporters

When:  Tuesday, September 18 at 11:00 AM

Why:  Just like when the lunchroom workers of UNITE HERE Local 1 reached an agreement with CPS on their own union contract in April of this year which set a course for school meals in Chicago that incorporate the input of the lunchroom workers, CPS should show that same respect to its teachers. Their voice, experience, and vision for the future of education in Chicago should be considered as teachers are frontline caretakers of the kids, and they always hold the interests of all of our children close to their hearts.

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UNITE HERE Local 1 represents approximately 15,000 hospitality workers in the Chicago area and Northwest Indiana. For more information, visit www.unitehere1.org, Twitter @uniteherelocal1, and Facebook at www.facebook.com/uniteherelocal1.  

Better Schools for All of Us: Lunchroom Workers’ Union Supports Striking Teachers

For Immediate Release

Contact Carly Karmel,
312-933-40545 ckarmel@unitehere1.org

Early this morning, the approximately 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union walked out on strike to continue their effort to create schools – and workplaces – that can provide the best education possible for our city’s children.

UNITE HERE Local 1, which represents 3,200 lunchroom workers in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), stands strongly with the teachers. Though we are not on strike, we will join the picket lines wherever possible.

When the lunchroom workers of UNITE HERE Local 1 reached an agreement with CPS on their own union contract in April of this year, we announced a major success in the workers’ Let’s Cook! campaign to ensure a future of fresh food for Chicago’s kids. The groundbreaking settlement set a course for school meals in Chicago that incorporate the input of the lunchroom workers and respect their skills and experience as frontline caretakers of the kids.

It is now time for the Chicago Public Schools to show that same respect to its teachers – to incorporate their voice, experience, and vision for the future of education in Chicago.

We know that caretakers in the schools every day – be they teachers or lunchroom workers – always hold the interests of all of our children close to their hearts. Their jobs are difficult, but their commitment is great.

“Just like the lunchroom workers, the teachers are nurturers who every day are also counselors, comforters, and mentors to our kids,” said Shay Hillsman, a CPS lunchroom worker and member of UNITE HERE Local 1. She added, “I support the teachers as a fellow worker but also as a parent. They are fighting for educational opportunity for my kids too.”

We are proud to stand together in the schools and on the streets as long as it takes to realize a vision for a better school day for our kids and a better city for all of us.

Hundreds join Congress Hotel Strikers at 9th Anniversary Rally

For Immediate Release

Contact Carly Karmel,
312-933-40545 ckarmel@unitehere1.org

WHAT: Strikers at the Congress Hotel, joined by hundreds of community supporters and members of UNITE HERE Local 1, are rallying outside of the Congress Hotel to commemorate the 9th Anniversary of the Congress Hotel Strike, the longest hotel strike in American history.

WHO: Congress Hotel Strikers and hundreds of community supporters

WHERE: In front of the Congress Hotel (Congress & Michigan)

WHEN: Friday, June 15 at 4-6PM

>WHY: On June 15, 2003, members of UNITE HERE Local 1 working at the Congress Hotel went out on strike after the hotel decided to freeze wages, refused to pay healthcare premiums for its employees (effectively eliminating employee healthcare benefits), and demanded the ability to subcontract out all bargaining unit work at the hotel.

This year’s anniversary is the first since the rise of the Occupy movement and protesting by working people in Wisconsin.

Hundreds of workers protest at Chicago O’Hare Airport

For Immediate Release

Contact Carly Karmel,
312-933-40545 ckarmel@unitehere1.org

Airport workers frustrated over lack of response by city officials for job protections

As the city gets closer to signing new deals that will jeopardize over 1,500 Chicago jobs, hundreds of airport concessions workers and allies held an action at the Chicago O’Hare Terminal 1 departures area on Thursday, May 10, calling for city officials to move forward on measures that would improve the quality and stability of airport jobs. Actions on Thursday come in the wake of recent firings at the airport and more than two years of asking city officials to put in place job protections and a living wage for airport workers.

Much of the food and retail concessions at both O’Hare and Midway Airports are set to undergo a redevelopment overhaul in the coming months, a transition process that will affect over 1,500 workers and over $200 million in annual revenues. Redevelopment at other major U.S. airports, such as JFK in New York and Cleveland Hopkins International in Ohio, has been accompanied by labor harmony and worker protection procedures to ensure a smooth transition to new concessions operations. Chicago has, thus far, failed to implement such measures.

“I’m proud of the customer service I provide to Chicago travelers,” said Maria Iniguez-Villalobos, a food server at O’Hare. “But, I depend on my job. If I lose my job, how am I going to put food on the table? How will I help pay for my kids’ college?”

Earlier this year, Chicago’s airport concessions transition process was put to the test as operations at O’Hare Terminal 5 were taken over by new companies. This transition resulted in more than half of the existing retail concessions workforce losing their jobs. Now, as upcoming transitions threaten the careers of hundreds of Chicagoans, many of them are feeling the pressure.

“There’s too much at stake for us to let this process move forward without a thoughtful worker transition,” said Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1. “Airport workers need to know their jobs are secure. If they got it done at airports in Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles and so many other cities, then I know it can be done here in Chicago.”

Chicago Public Schools agrees with lunch workers, moves toward fresh food!

For Immediate Release

Contact Carly Karmel,
312-933-40545 ckarmel@unitehere1.org

Over the past four months, Chicago’s lunchroom workers have spoken with parents across the city about their vision for the food served to Chicago’s schoolchildren. The workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 1, also took their vision for freshly cooked food to the bargaining table. Today, in a landmark agreement, the workers and the Chicago Board of Education signed a new union contract that begins to ensure Chicago’s kids will eat fresh food for years to come.

In addition to important improvements in wages, protecting health care and job security, the contract begins to change the food model in Chicago’s schools by halting any expansion of “frozen food” schools.

The lunchroom workers’ “Let’s Cook” campaign, part of Real Foods Real Jobs, had drawn particular attention to the increasing use of frozen, pre-plated meals in the schools. Now, with the exception of one school, the Board of Education has committed to stop transitioning schools from cooking to “warming” kitchens. This victory ensures many Chicago children avoid a future school diet of reheated frozen food and highlights the positive changes possible when frontline workers and administrators collaborate.

“This is a great victory because our voice was heard. We have not only stopped the expansion of frozen food in our schools but also maintained our benefits and our jobs,” said Constance Hatchett, a 12-year CPS lunchroom cook from Hope Academy.

As part of this agreement, CPS will actively solicit and incorporate input from lunchroom workers. A “Good Food Committee,” with representatives from both the Board of Education and frontline workers, will meet monthly to identify best practices regarding healthy food. A bi-annual survey of lunchroom workers will also be conducted to ensure worker input on menu or program changes in schools.

“We’re proud that the lunchroom workers brought the issue of palatable, freshly prepared food to the table,” said Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1. “It’s a fair settlement but we still have some work to do with the Board of Education. There are still some students in the system subjected to pre-packaged, frozen food every day from the time they start kindergarten to the time they leave 8th grade. All students deserve freshly prepared food.”

The 5-year agreement covers more than 3,200 lunchroom workers who prepare and serve over 77,000 breakfasts and 280,000 lunches every day in over 600 schools. Lunchroom workers ratified the contract on April 28 and look forward to further efforts to ensure Chicago’s kids are fed the food they deserve.

Hundreds picket Hyatt HQ, protesting threats to cancel healthcare

For Immediate Release

Contact Carly Karmel,
312-933-40545 ckarmel@unitehere1.org

Thousands could lose coverage under Hyatt’s proposal; Clergy denounce Hyatt’s “harsh tactics”
Hundreds of hotel workers and allies are picketing at Hyatt’s global headquarters today in protest of Hyatt’s proposal to strip health insurance from Chicago hotel workers and their families after more than two years of contract negotiations. Bargaining between Hyatt and the members of UNITE HERE Local 1 hit a turning point in late November after Hyatt threatened to cut off health benefits unless workers give up their fight and abandon their boycotts. Now hotel workers, religious leaders, and health advocates are calling on the company to withdraw its threat to Chicago workers. If Hyatt refuses, thousands of workers and members of their families in Chicago could lose health insurance at the end of February.

“If they take our health insurance away, my kids will suffer,” says Jacqueline Smith, who has worked in the housekeeping department of the Hyatt McCormick Place for the last 10 years and is a single mother of five children—thre e with special needs. “I have heart problems and high blood pressure. If I don’t get my medication or they take away my breathing machine, then I can’t support my family.”
On November 21, 2011, Hyatt negotiators first officially informed the Union of their intent to cut health benefits, with an insurance cut-off going into effect on December 31, 2011. On November 29, Hyatt officials informed the Union that they would postpone the cut-off date by 60 days, extending coverage until the end of February.

In the last two years of contract negotiations, Hyatt has refused to budge on crucial demands to curb subcontracting and ease working conditions for housekeepers—demands met by Hilton and other hotel employers citywide. In response, Hyatt workers have held several limited-duration strikes and called for boycotts of their hotels. Over $20 million in group bookings have pulled out from boycotted Hyatt hotels nationwide.

“According to Jewish tradition, preventing the healing of the sick is akin to shedding blood,” says Rabbi Brant Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, IL, who is participating in today’s protests. “It is truly a shandeh that Hyatt would stoop to these unacceptably harsh tactics as a negotiating ploy.”

This is not the first instance of Hyatt’s labor controversies. In July, Hyatt turned heat lamps on striking workers at the Park Hyatt Chicago during a brutal heat wave. In Boston, Hyatt fired its entire housekeeping staff at three non-union hotels, replacing women who had worked at Hyatt for decades with temporary workers earning minimum wage.

UNITE HERE Local 1 and Local 450 represent approximately 1,500 workers at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, Park Hyatt, Hyatt McCormick Place, and Hyatt Regency O’Hare. Contracts for area Hyatt workers expired on August 31, 2009. Since then, area Hyatt workers have carried out several limited duration strikes and other demonstrations, including a weeklong strike in September 2011.