Chicago hotel strike pits workers against Democrats’ billionaire candidate for governor
12 September 2018
The strike by over 5,000 Chicago hotel workers spread to 26 locations Tuesday, as hundreds of workers walked off the job at the Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile hotel, just north of downtown. Thousands of housekeepers, bellhops, servers, cooks and other hospitality workers walked out across the city last Friday to demand increased wages, year-round health benefits and reduced workloads.
Labor agreements covering 6,000 members of the UNITE HERE in Chicago expired on August 31, along with thousands of others at major hotels across the country. On Tuesday, hotel workers in Hawaii voted by 95 percent to approve strike action at six Marriott-operated hotels in Honolulu and on Maui. Hospitality workers at Marriott, which became the world’s largest hotel chain after its $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, will take strike votes today in Boston, September 13 in San Francisco and San Jose, and September 14 in Seattle.
The strikes pit some of the most exploited sections of the working class, including large numbers of Latin American and Asian immigrant workers earning near poverty wages, against some of the most powerful and politically connected multinational businesses. This includes Marriott—which owns 30 brands and more than 5,800 properties in more than 110 countries—and Hyatt Hotels Corporation, which has 777 properties in 54 countries.
Chicago hotels raked in more than $2 billion in revenue in 2017, with more than 55 million tourists visiting the city. Occupancy at the downtown hotels—where a stay in a five-star room can go for anywhere between $440 and $1,500 a night—reached 90 percent.
In addition to Marriott…