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Hyatt Hotel Workers Begin Weeklong Strike

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Hyatt Hotel workers are on strike in four cities, including Chicago.

As WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports, hotel workers were walking a picket line Thursday morning outside the Hyatt McCormick Place, 2233 S. King Dr.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Mike Krauser reports


Brenda Carter of the union UNITE HERE says the striking workers are standing up for other employees.

"This company has really sought to outsource and subcontract work to cheaper and more vulnerable workers, and we're standing up against that," she said, "and the other thing is that this company really abuses housekeepers like no other hotel company in the industry."

Hotel employee Chris Toro said he was nervous about being on a picket line given how few jobs are out there, but he said it was worth it.

"It makes us all nervous, but we're brave, and we're going to brave it out," said Toro, who has been a banquet server at the Hyatt McCormick Place for seven years.

The workers call Hyatt "the worst employer in the hotel industry," and say the hotel chain has replaced career housekeepers with minimum-wage temp workers and imposed "dangerous" workloads on the full-timers who remain.

The union also accuses Hyatt of abusing its housekeepers, by making them clean up to 30 rooms a day, "nearly double what is typically required at union hotels." The Hyatt Regency also brought in new beds with mattresses that are too heavy for the housekeepers to lift, the union said.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued 15 citations against Hyatt at 10 hotels, and three citations against Hyatt housekeeping contractors at two of the hotels, the union said.

The union is also angry about a protest back on July 21, a day when the temperature climbed to 99 degrees and the heat index topped 100. As the workers picketed in front of the Park Hyatt, 800 N. Michigan Ave., someone turned on the heat lamps that are used to warm workers and guests during frigid weather.

UNITE HERE Local 1 has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in connection with that incident.

Hotel employees have worked without a contract for two years, and are hoping the weeklong strike will pressure the hotel to make concessions.

The Hyatt Corporation responded that it has been trying to give employees the raises they deserve for two years, but the union stalled negotiations.

Hotels in Chicago continue to operate normally despite the strike.

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