On the Picket Line

Chicago hotel strikers win year-round health coverage

By Dan Fein
October 22, 2018

CHICAGO — Since 6,000 members of UNITE HERE Local 1 went on strike here in early September, workers at 24 of the 26 hotels have settled, winning year-round health care insurance, the biggest issue in their walkout. Union members remain on strike at two hotels — the Cambria Magnificent Mile and the Kinzie Hotel — as contracts are negotiated separately with each hotel.

“The company cuts the low seniority workers’ hours in the winter slow period and then, to make matters worse, they eliminate our health insurance,” Tine Morales, who has six months on the job as a housekeeper at the Kinzie Hotel, told the Militant. “That affects me and my kids. We need year-round health insurance.

“Union members who won and are back at work have come over and join our picket line during their breaks and after work,” she said.

Jose Sanchez is a houseman with nearly 11 years at the hotel. For him one of the biggest issues is that the bosses there want to convert their vacation and sick days into a single “paid time off” category. “For those of us with years on the job, we’d lose a week’s vacation. We had four weeks vacation plus five sick days, and they want to limit us to 20 PTO days,” he said. “Already, every time you want to schedule a vacation you have to fight with them.”