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Protest Marks Hotel Strike Anniversary

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Protest Marks Hotel Strike Anniversary

The union went on strike in 2003 for job security and wage hikes. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)

Managers of Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel got an earful Thursday from protesters marking the fifth anniversary of a strike there.

About 1,100 pickets circled the Congress as members of the Musicians Union stood near the hotel’s entrance.

Ambi: Dixieland.

The protest supported 130 members of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 1. They went on strike in 2003 for job security and pay increases. Five years later, the Congress pays many of its replacement workers $8.83 an hour.

Ambi: What a shande! What a shande!

That’s Yiddish for “shame.” Rachel Kohl Finegold of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs warned the hotel’s Israeli-born president to heed a Torah verse.

KOHL FINEGOLD: Do not defraud the hired worker. On the same day, give him his wage.

A Congress spokesperson says the union wants too much from an independently owned hotel. He says management is eager to resume negotiations.

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