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New contract for more than 3,000 hotel workers

Following 20 months of bargaining, an agreement has been reached on a new contract for more than 3,000 workers at a number of area hotels. Unite Here Local 1 and Starwood Hotels have reached settlements in Chicago affecting 1,200 Starwood workers at the Sheraton, Westin Michigan Avenue, Westin River North, W Lakeshore, W City Center and Tremont hotels.

It will also affect about 2,000 workers at 16 other hotels where operators have signed pattern agreements tied to the Sheraton contract, a release from UNITE HERE said. Agreements were ratified by Starwood workers late Tuesday.

The contracts include wage increases and improved job stability language, while preserving low-cost, high-quality healthcare and pension benefits for hotel workers and their families, the release said.

Over the life of the contract, wages for non-tipped workers will increase $1.80 per hour, raising the wage of a housekeeper, for instance, from $14.60 today to $16.40 when the contract expires in 2013.

“This settlement is good for Chicago, good for Starwood and good for our members,” Henry Tamarin, president of UNITE HERE Local 1, said.

Agreements for Starwood and other hotel workers in downtown Chicago expired Aug. 31, 2009. Since then, Starwood hotel properties have faced numerous labor demonstrations, including pickets, a limited walkout in August 2010 and a brief boycott earlier this month.

The settlement effectively resolves all remaining hotel contract disputes in Chicago, the union says, except those with Hyatt Hotels and the Congress Hotel, site of the longest hotel strike in history.

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