WBEZ | UNITE HERE Local 1 http://www.wbez.org/tags/unite-here-local-1 Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Agreement could end bitter Hyatt labor dispute http://www.wbez.org/news/agreement-could-end-bitter-hyatt-labor-dispute-107921 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2011-07-21_07-30-06_733.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 218px; width: 300px;" title="Unite Here Local 1 members picketed at the Park Hyatt in downtown Chicago on July 21, 2011. As temperatures climbed into the 90s, the hotel turned heat lamps on the pickets. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />The dispute led to a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels Corp. It got more attention after President Obama nominated Penny Pritzker, whose family founded the hotel chain, to be commerce secretary. At one point, Hyatt turned winter heat lamps on Chicago pickets as summer temperatures neared triple digits.</p><p>Now it could all be over.</p><p>Hyatt and the union Unite Here on Monday announced a deal that covers thousands of company employees in Chicago, San Francisco, Honolulu and Los Angeles. The sides say the agreement could end the boycott.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s extremely good news for businesses and groups that are interested in coming to Chicago to hold their conventions or stay in those particular properties,&rdquo; said Doug Patrick, Hyatt&rsquo;s senior vice-president of human resources for the Americas.</p><p>Hyatt and the union say the pact spells out a process for unorganized workers to vote on whether they want the union to represent them.</p><p>Unite Here President D. Taylor said that provision would help the union expand its Hyatt ranks. &ldquo;We feel very confident about growth we&rsquo;re going to achieve in the short term under this settlement,&rdquo; Taylor said.</p><p>Patrick said Hyatt &ldquo;did not stand down.&rdquo; He said the voting would take place only at hotels where the company and union had &ldquo;mutual agreement&rdquo; that &ldquo;this process makes sense.&rdquo;</p><p>The sides said they wouldn&rsquo;t provide a copy of the national deal until contract negotiations in each city were complete and until workers ratified those pacts.</p><p>The contracts, which would run through 2018, would increase Hyatt costs for the unionized labor an average of 4&nbsp;percent a year, Patrick said. Most of that increase would be the result of higher spending on wages and medical insurance, he added.</p><p>The Chicago contracts would cover about 1,500 workers. Raises would be retroactive to 2009, when a set of three-year contracts between Hyatt and the union expired.</p><p>Unite Here has led brief strikes protesting Hyatt outsourcing and the company&rsquo;s allegedly unsafe working conditions. Both sides say the new contracts will include no new safety language but will bring some outsourced work back to Hyatt.</p><p>The union said it would not call off the boycott until the ratifications in all four cities.</p><p><em><a href="“http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0”">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="“https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1”">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="“https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud”">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="“https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1”">Facebook</a> and <a href="“http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1”">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 01 Jul 2013 19:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/agreement-could-end-bitter-hyatt-labor-dispute-107921 Sister union’s vote could affect leverage of teachers http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Local73.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 276px; height: 480px; " title="SEIU members march with the Chicago Teachers Union in a 2011 downtown protest to support public education. (Photo courtesy of Local 73)" /></div><p>As the Chicago Teachers Union tallies <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-06/ctu-president-karen-lewis-talks-strike-authorization-vote-99844">a vote</a> that could lead to a strike, some balloting Saturday by the school district&rsquo;s second-largest union could affect the teachers&rsquo; bargaining strength.</p><p>Service Employees International Union Local 73 is holding a ratification vote on a tentative contract covering 5,500 Chicago Public Schools employees ranging from bus aides and special-education assistants to custodians and child-welfare attendants.</p><p>Local 73 Vice President Taalib-Din Ziyad and other union leaders are urging members to approve the deal because the district has privatized a lot of the work once done by the union&rsquo;s members.</p><p>&ldquo;We were able to save those jobs that were threatened as well as get language that there would be no further contracting out of any of our jobs,&rdquo; Ziyad said.</p><p>Local 73 and CPS said they would not release a copy of the agreement until after the ratification vote. Union leaders say the deal covers three years and sets up 2 percent annual raises.</p><p>The tentative pact follows a CPS contract settlement with Unite Here Local 1 announced last month. That agreement, a five-year deal, covers about 3,200 lunchroom workers and limits the district&rsquo;s switch to &ldquo;warming kitchens&rdquo; in which private venders provide preprepared food.</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear whether the two settlements leave the CTU&rsquo;s 25,000 members out on a limb or increase their leverage. The teachers are finishing a vote on whether to authorize union leaders to call a strike. That vote, which began Wednesday, comes amid tough contract talks involving everything from pay to the school-day length.</p><p>Orlando Sepúlveda, a Local 73 member campaigning against ratification, calls the tentative agreement &ldquo;a hollow victory&rdquo; and says his union could have done better by waiting for the teachers to get a deal.</p><p>&ldquo;The defense of public education &mdash; meaning not only halting privatization, but also the improvement of all its constituent elements &mdash; will require the unity of all the community that it serves and all the workers involved in it,&rdquo; Sepúlveda wrote in a Web commentary.</p><p>The settlements could affect the CTU&rsquo;s negotiations, according to leaders of that union.</p><p>&ldquo;The members of both Unite Here and SEIU are hourly workers so they&rsquo;re not a good precedent for salaried teachers,&rdquo; CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey said. &ldquo;But one thing that could set a precedent for us is the job-security language that those unions won.&rdquo;</p><p>The CTU has lost thousands of members in recent years, partly as a result of the district&rsquo;s approval of nonunion charter schools.</p></p> Fri, 08 Jun 2012 19:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sister-union%E2%80%99s-vote-could-affect-leverage-teachers-99962 Former candidate for Chicago alderman stands to lose far more than an election http://www.wbez.org/story/former-candidate-chicago-alderman-stands-lose-far-more-election-95561 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-January/2012-01-13/photo.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>This much you already know: Political campaigns can be costly. And that's especially true for one candidate who ran for Chicago alderman last year.</p><p>John Garrido lost after getting knocked around by negative ads. He sued for defamation, and the outcome could end up costing him - personally - more than $150,000.</p><p>Garrido is a Chicago police lieutenant, a part-time attorney and - in recent years - an aspiring politician. Last year, he ran for alderman in the 45th Ward on the city's far Northwest Side.</p><p>"I don't want to say that I thought it was mine," Garrido said in an interview last week at his law office. "But we definitely were doing very well and I thought we were going to be victorious."</p><p>Garrido's confidence wasn't misplaced. He was well known and ran a high-energy - though relatively-low cost - campaign.</p><p>But in the end, "Well, it was a nail-biter. Came right down to the wire," he said.</p><p>Thirty votes separated Garrido from his opponent.</p><p>"Absolutely crazy," he said. "I believe one paper wrote that it was the second-closest race in the history of Chicago."</p><p>If that's so (and a spokesman from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners doubts it), Garrido was on the losing side of history.</p><p>"Trust me, the second guessing. You know, when I stopped for dinner on a certain day, I could have walked an extra two blocks," Garrido said. "I mean, yeah, of course you definitely second guess yourself all the way 'til the end there."</p><p>The winner was John Arena, who owns a graphic design business. Arena had won the bulk of labor union support in the race. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) of Illinois, alone spent several hundred thousand dollars on this single ward race.</p><p>Garrido was hit over and over again with negative ads - many tying him to the unpopular deal to lease Chicago's parking meters to a private company, a deal that's led to increasingly higher parking rates.</p><p>"When Chicago privatized parking meters, our neighborhoods and working families got hurt," boomed the voice-over on a SEIU TV ad. "Garrido even took cash from a corporation making millions from the parking meter deal."</p><p>A sentence flashed on the screen: "Garrido took cash from parking meter company."</p><p>"Absolutely false. Absolutely false," Garrido said of the charge.</p><p>Well, maybe not "absolutely" false, but not quite as advertised. It turns out Garrido took money from the owner of a security firm working with the parking meter company. The claim was repeated in mailings to 45th Ward residents, along with other negative charges.</p><p>Just 10 days after he lost the election, Garrido filed a defamation lawsuit.</p><p>"My reputation was damaged," he said. "My career's been based on honesty and integrity. And they spent a lot of money to damage that. And unfortunately, there are very few ways that you can get recourse."</p><p>He sued SEIU Illinois and other unions that sent out negative ads: Chicago Federation of Labor and UNITE HERE Local 1, as well as Comcast, which aired the TV ad, and the winning candidate, John Arena, whose campaign also made the parking meter claim.</p><p>Arena said in an interview last week that Garrido should've known better than to accept a donation at all connected to the parking meter deal.</p><p>"You don't want to be 10 feet from that. You don't want to be 100 miles from that deal if you're in a campaign running," Arena said. "If that were me, I would have returned the money. I wouldn't want to have anything to do with that deal in the context of that race."</p><p>Besides, Arena said, hits happen in the course of an election; if you can't take them, don't play the game.</p><p>"It comes off...as sour grapes that you ran a campaign," Arena said. "You win or you lose, and you have to decide whether you're going to come back and run again the next time or file a lawsuit that wastes a lot of people's time."</p><p>Representatives for SEIU Illinois, Chicago Federation of Labor, UNITE HERE Local 1 and Comcast all declined to comment for this story, each noting the pending lawsuit.</p><p>So far, it hasn't mattered if the parking meter claim was true, somewhat true or not at all true. The defamation suit was dismissed before its merits were ever discussed, because of an Illinois law passed in 2007: the Citizen Participation Act.</p><p>Supporters of the legislation wanted to discourage lawsuits that could have a "chill[ing]" effect on people wanting to speak out in public forums. Basically, the law said you can't be sued for what you say, if you're legitimately trying to influence "government action."</p><p>"So that people can't use the courts as a means of litigating their political fights," explains Shari Albrecht, an attorney at the Chicago law firm Mandell Menkes. She's represented a handful of defendants in lawsuits where the Citizen Participation Act is invoked.</p><p>"The defendant doesn't have to go to the effort of trying to prove, for instance, that their statements were true, or that for whatever other reason it wasn't defamation. All the defendant has to do is show that the Citizen Participation Act applies," Albrecht said.</p><p>And then the lawsuit is dismissed. Plus, the plaintiff - the person claiming to be defamed - has to pay a chunk of the other side's legal bills.</p><p>And that's what John Garrido is looking at, according to court documents: $13,164 for lawyers hired by the Chicago Federation of Labor, $34,149 for SEIU Illinois, $34,222 for UNITE HERE Local 1, $62,407 for Comcast and $17,097 for John Arena. All told, those defendants say Garrido owes them roughly $161,000.</p><p>In his order last week re-affirming his dismissal of the case, Cook County Judge Michael Panter wrote that courts shouldn't "police the veracity of our political candidates' campaign allegations."</p><p>Garrido plans to appeal.</p><p>"The statute that they're using to try to dismiss the case, in my opinion, wasn't created to protect speech that's untrue. You don't just get, you know, free pass to lie just because it's during a campaign," Garrido said.</p><p>"Everybody's got the opinion that, well - you know - politics, you've got to have a thick skin. It's rough and tumble. This is Chicago politics. And that's fine and I'm good with that," Garrido said. "Nobody's got a thicker skin than a Chicago police officer. But there has to be a line somewhere that you cannot cross."</p><p>And Judge Panter at least appears somewhat sympathetic to Garrido's argument, calling attention in his ruling a "fundamental irony" with the Citizen Protection Act.</p><p>The law, he wrote, "closes the door on one very important right to participate in government, applying to the courts for relief from injury...in the name of protecting another right to participate in government, like here, running for political office."</p><p>Panter pleaded for "clarification," and he could get it soon. In September, the Illinois Supreme Court heard a case questioning whether such a broad protection of public statements in constitutional. The justices have not yet ruled.</p></p> Tue, 17 Jan 2012 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/former-candidate-chicago-alderman-stands-lose-far-more-election-95561 Park Hyatt strikers decry outsourcing; hotel turns on heaters http://www.wbez.org/story/hyatt-employees-hold-one-day-picket-89447 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-21/2011-07-21_07-30-06_733.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The main entrance of an upscale hotel in downtown Chicago was sweltering Thursday morning — and not just because of the rising sun and the week’s heat wave. As pickets marched under the Park Hyatt’s glass awning, the inn switched on 10 heat lamps installed to warm guests in the dead of winter.<br><br>The picketing began a daylong strike in which dozens of Park Hyatt employees walked off their jobs at 7 a.m.<br><br>Their union, UNITE HERE, is trying to put pressure on Hyatt Hotels Corp. during negotiations to replace Chicago-area contracts that expired almost two years ago. The union represents about 1,800 workers at the Park Hyatt, Hyatt Regency Chicago, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place and Hyatt Regency O’Hare.<br><br>The company has agreed to match wages and benefits spelled out in four-year contracts that UNITE HERE reached this year for Chicago employees of two other hotel chains, Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.<br><br>UNITE HERE says the Hyatt negotiations are stuck on the company’s ability to outsource work to nonunion firms.<br><br>“If they replace me, it doesn’t matter how good the benefits are because I’ll be out of a job,” says Park Hyatt restaurant server Gabriel Carrasquillo, a picket captain. “I’m HIV-positive so I have a lot of medical expenses. Without these health benefits, I wouldn’t be able to have the care that I have today.”<br><br>UNITE HERE says another contentious point is Hyatt’s housekeeping workloads, which the union calls hazardous. The union funded a peer-reviewed study, published last year in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, that placed Hyatt fourth among the top five U.S. hotel chains for workplace safety.<br><br>Hyatt responded by commissioning a critique from an occupational health expert who concluded that the study’s authors “have not disrupted the conventional wisdom that housekeeping tasks are not inherently hazardous.”<br><br>Hyatt accuses UNITE HERE of holding up the Chicago talks to pressure the company to recognize the union at hotels in four other cities. “Instead of acting in the best interests of its members, the union is using them to grow its membership,” says Farley Kern, Hyatt’s vice president of corporate communications.<br><br>The strike was the fourth work stoppage to hit a Chicago-area Hyatt since May 2010. Park Hyatt’s reservations desk said the hotel’s 198 rooms were booked solid Thursday morning. Kern insisted the strike would not affect guests because managers were filling in.<br><br>The company's next bargaining session with UNITE HERE is Monday.</p></p> Thu, 21 Jul 2011 12:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/hyatt-employees-hold-one-day-picket-89447 Union pacts with Hilton turn up heat on Starwood, Hyatt http://www.wbez.org/story/annemarie-strassel/union-pacts-hilton-turn-heat-starwood-hyatt <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//IMG_2278crop.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Union contracts with Chicago-area Hilton hotels could pressure other hospitality chains to follow suit.<br> <br> Members of the union UNITE HERE on Friday ratified four-year agreements covering 1,600 Chicago-area workers at the Drake, Palmer House Hilton, Chicago Hilton and Hilton O’Hare.<br> <br> The deals will maintain benefits and raise wages, said UNITE HERE Local 1 spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel. Workers will continue paying $30 per month for family medical coverage with no added out-of-pocket expenses, while room-attendant pay will increase more than 12 percent to $16.40 an hour over the four years, she said.<br> <br> A Hilton statement called the contracts “good for our company and good for our team members.”<br> <br> The agreements make Hilton the first hotel chain in the Chicago area to settle with UNITE HERE since the union’s local contracts expired in 2009.<br> <br> Hotel management consultant Ted Mandigo said the deals strengthen UNITE HERE’s hand. “Having an agreement with Hilton gives a set of negotiated terms that form a basis for what [the union] is going to look for from Starwood and the Hyatt organization,” he said, referring to the Chicago area’s other major unionized hotel chains.<br> <br> In 2006, three-year union deals with Hilton quickly led to similar pacts with the other hotels.<br> <br> Starwood negotiator Jim Franczek said he hadn’t seen the Hilton agreement and, therefore, couldn’t comment on it.<br> <br> Officials of Hyatt, a Chicago-based company, didn’t immediately answer our questions Monday.<br> <br> Henry Tamarin, president of Local 1, said the Hilton deals would “definitely increase pressure” on the other companies. “But we have some sharper issues with Hyatt,” Tamarin said, pointing to subcontracting and housekeeping workloads.</p></p> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 22:44:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/annemarie-strassel/union-pacts-hilton-turn-heat-starwood-hyatt