Your NPR news source

Hotel Protesters Free After Blocking Road

SHARE Hotel Protesters Free After Blocking Road
Hotel Protesters Free After Blocking Road

Hotel 71 housekeeper Hortencia Varela says she’s fighting to preserve health insurance for her husband and daughters. (Chip Mitchell/WBEZ)

About 200 protesters are free after their arrest Thursday night outside a hotel in downtown Chicago.

Union contracts covering more than 7,000 Chicago-area hospitality workers expired August 31. UNITE HERE Local 1 is trying to strengthen its hand in talks for new contracts.

During rush hour Thursday night, more than 700 union supporters gathered outside the Park Hyatt. About 200 of them blocked all four lanes of Chicago Avenue by sitting down and linking arms.

The Chicago police took them away in buses and let them go with tickets.

Hyatt says it expects an agreement with the union. But the company points to a decline in room occupancy since last year.

SCHAFER: We have to work hand-in-hand with the union to figure out ways to control ever-increasing costs.

Hyatt Vice President John Schafer says those costs include health care, pensions and wages.

The union says the industry should do better for its workers after more than a decade of big profits.

The Latest