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Hotel Workers Get 'Panic Buttons' For Protection

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It's what a group of workers calls a monumental day for their business, and their safety

A new Chicago ordinance goes into effect giving hotel workers like housekeepers so-called "panic buttons."

CBS 2's Jeremy Ross with more on the personal stories driving today's news.

Dozens of workers and union officials applaud what they call a celebration of safety.

A Chicago ordinance called "hands off pants on" went into effect Sunday.

Meaning more than 5,000 hotel workers who clean or work by themselves, places like guest rooms, will now have panic buttons.

Housekeeper Latonia Marshall learned her hotel has them and says a way to call for immediate help is necessary.

"It has a GPS on it so they know exactly where we are," she said. "Some my coworkers have been cornered in rooms and couldn't actually get out, had to jump over a bed," she said.

A 2016 survey by Unite Here Local 1 revealed 58 percent of hotel workers were sexually harassed by a guest. 49 percent of housekeepers said a guest exposed themselves.

While the law may not prevent offenses from happening, city leaders say it protects workers during and after.

According to one hotel worker, the ordinance says they cannot be fired for being whistleblowers.

City leaders say planning for this ordinance predates the MeToo movement.

It's unclear if every hotel worker who should have a button does at this time.

But CBS 2 is told so far there are no issues or complaints.

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