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Hyatt Regency Chicago workers stage strike

Updated: June 21, 2011 4:43AM

Union workers at the Hyatt Regency Chicago staged a one-day strike Monday at the hotel to protest working conditions and outsourcing.

The union represents more than 600 housekeepers, bell staff, restaurant staff and other workers at the downtown hotel.

The strike has not caused service disruptions, and business is continuing as usual, a Hyatt spokesman said.

Workers’ contract with the hotel and three other Hyatt facilities in the Chicago area expired nearly 22 months ago.

The strike, which began at 4 a.m. and is slated to end at 8 p.m., is the latest in a series of actions taken by Hyatt workers.

“The two big things that we’re stuck on right now are subcontracting and working conditions for housekeepers, which has been a major concern” and source of controversy, particularly at Hyatt hotels across the country, said Annemarie Strassel, a spokeswoman for Unite here Local 1.

The union says academic studies have shown housekeeping to be dangerous work that can lead to debilitating injuries.

Local 1 has addressed subcontracting concerns at other Chicago area unionized hotels, Strassel said. The union ratified contracts this year covering workers at Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Unite Here Local 1 represents about 1,800 Hyatt workers in the Chicago area.

“Hyatt has been negotiating in good faith for nearly two years,” Hyatt Regency Chicago General Manager Patrick Donelly said in a statement. “In fact, our most recent proposal does not ask for any employee concessions and matches the pay and benefits package the union has agreed to with other Chicago area hotels.

“We ask that Unite Here get serious about completing a new agreement to put the best interests of our associates first. Instead, they continue to stage labor disruptions when they should be sitting at the bargaining table.”

In September, the union staged a one-day strike at Hyatt Regency O’Hare, and in May 2010, Hyatt Regency Chicago workers, led by more than 100 housekeepers, staged an impromptu walkout protesting working conditions.

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