Hotel workers sit on Wacker Drive in Chicago to call attention to Hyatt Hotel's unfair labor practices by Kevin Gosztola
Hotel workers from Chicago supported and participated in a nonviolent civil disobedience action aimed at calling attention to the Hyatt Hotel chain's working conditions on Thursday evening. The action was part of a nationally organized plan to target Hyatt and call attention to its lack of fairness and respect toward workers.
Fifteen cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, and Honolulu, participated in the planned actions and, in total, hundreds of workers from these cities were arrested for disrupting business as usual in the cities.
Chicago Breaking Business reported on the workers' struggle:
"...Labor contracts affecting 6,000 downtown hotel workers expired 11 months ago, and labor negotiations so far have been unsuccessful. While the contracts affect workers at several hotel chains in Chicago, Unite Here has focused its efforts on Chicago-based Hyatt, controlled by the Pritzker family, holding it up as an example of a hotel chain that is using the economy as an excuse to take advantage of workers..."
People began to gather for the Chicago action, organized by UNITEHERE Local 1, around 4:30 pm CT and the sit-in began around 5 pm CT. The workers marched down the sidewalk on Stetson Avenue and on to Wacker Drive.
About fifty to seventy-five workers sat down in single-file horizontal lines during rush hour. With about ten to fifteen people in each line, they chanted, "We are human beings. Enough is enough." And, all of the workers were wearing T-shirts signifying that they were with UNITEHERE Local 1 or they had a piece of felt pinned on their back to show what hotel they worked for in Chicago.
As they sat blocking the street, hundreds stood in solidarity with the workers on the sidewalks watching the action develop. The Chicago media were present. And, the police had the area heavily controlled.
Minutes into the sit-in, an officer gave the first warning to get off the street because the workers did not have a permit. A second warning game minutes after that. The officer cited, again, the lack of permit and their violation of a city ordinance as reason why they would be arrested if they did not move.
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