Friday, October 9, 2009

Chicago City Council once again turns its back on the working people of Chicago...

After the municipal elections back in 2007, in which the Chicago Federation of Labor invested an historic level of resources in getting pro-labor alderman elected, I think many of us really hoped to see a more worker friendly city council and one that was more independent from Mayor Daley. It seems from the experience of the past few years (Walmart, Big Box Living Wage Ordinance, clean power ordinance, parking meter privitization, etc. etc.), those hopes have been dashed. Here is just one more example of how tone deaf the council is to the concerns of working class Chicagoans...

From a UNITE-HERE Local 1 press release:

For Immediate Release Wednesday, October 7, 2009
For questions please contact Annemarie Strassel at (312) 617-0495

City Council defers vote on Hotel Strike Notification Law
Law would give customers notice about strikes or lockouts that could affect the quality of their stay before they book hotel rooms

Chicago, Ill.— Today the City Council voted to re-refer the hotel strike notification law to the Finance Committee. This law, commonly referred to as the “Right to Know” consumer protection law, would protect Chicago visitors by requiring area hotels to notify customers of a strike or lockout 15 days or longer before making reservations.

Alderman Ricardo Muñoz (22nd Ward) first introduced the ordinance in May. After the ordinance was passed out of the Finance Committee on September 7th, it was referred to the full City Council for a vote today. Ike Carothers (29th Ward) introduced a motion to re-refer the legislation back to committee, which the Council ultimately voted in favor of by a narrow margin of 23 to 22, amid some confusion by Council members.

Hotel quality can be dramatically affected by a strike or lockout, which can threaten Chicago’s reputation as a top tier tourism and convention destination. According to the Chicago Convention and Tourism bureau, 132,000 jobs depend on the tourism industry. Now area hotel workers, visitors, and community supporters are calling on city leaders to take steps to ensure that visitors have the information they need to have the best experience possible.

“Today, aldermen missed an opportunity to defend hardworking people, their jobs, and the guests that come to our city,” says Kimmie Jordan, a housekeeper at the Cass Holiday Inn Hotel in downtown Chicago. “Our jobs depend on people coming to Chicago and having a positive experience, so they want to return again and again.”

A similar ordinance first came before City Council in 2005 but was narrowly defeated by a margin of 5 opposing votes.

The need for consumer protection is highlighted by the ongoing dispute at the Congress Plaza Hotel on Michigan Avenue, the longest running strike in America. Over a thousand customers have complained about the hotel since the strike began, citing unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the hotel such as undercooked food, dirty linens, broken elevators and torn carpets. The hotel has also failed seven building inspections in the last two years. Seven of the 15 Department of Health inspections of the Congress Hotel since 2005 have found evidence of insects or rodents, including dead roaches and rat and mice droppings.

Unite Here Local 1, Chicago’s hospitality workers union, represents over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago and casino workers in Northwest Indiana.

For more information on the strike, go to PresidentPicketsCongress.org

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