Congress Plaza Hotel workers end decade-long strike

May 31, 2013

(Flickr/Seth Anderson)
The Congress Hotel on Michigan Avenue. Workers ended a 10 year strike at the hotel.

One of the longest labor strikes, going on for nearly 10 years, has finally ended. Hospitality workers at Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel have stopped picketing and offered to return to work.

130 workers represented by Unite Here Local 1, walked off the job in June 2003 over a contract dispute, including wage issues.

In a statement, union representatives say it was hard but it’s time to move on.

“The hotel treats their workers and customers equally poor and the community knows it. There is no more to do there,” said Local 1 President Henry Tamarin. “We don’t see getting a contract here, and we have many more battles to fight for economic justice.”

Hotel attorney Peter Andjelkovich said management was surprised to hear the news.

“The ownership or the top management of the company is the same reaction as mine which is ‘where did this come from and why?’ And we’re looking at the legal implications and, again, the logistical.”

He said management and the union had not met since last summer.

The union points out that when Congress strikers walked off the job in 2003, the city standard wage for room attendants was $8.83 an hour. It says now it’s $16.40, but returning workers won’t be getting that wage.

“From a legal standpoint, as if the workers were to come back to work, they’re paid under the terms and conditions of the expired contract, which expired in 2002,” Andjelkovich said.

About 60 striking workers have already moved on to other jobs.

The hotel doesn’t know yet how it will accommodate those wanting to resume their jobs.

The union doubts many will want to return.

Susie An covers business for WBEZ. follow her @soosieon