Decade-Long Congress Hotel Strike Ends

An email sent to the hotel's attorneys signaled the end of the strike

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    NEWSLETTERS

    After nearly 10 years, the strike outside of Chicago's Congress Hotel has ended. The union president said "it is the right time for the Union and the strikers to move on." Kim Vatis reports.

    The longest strike in U.S. history has ended.

    Employees of Chicago's Congress Hotel on South Michigan Avenue received word overnight that the nearly 10-year strike outside the hotel's front doors is over.

    "With the 10th anniversary of the Congress Hotel strike approaching, UNITE HERE Local 1, the union representing Chicago’s hospitality workers, announces the end of strike," the union announced in a statement.

    Strikers regularly picketed outside the hotel beginning on June 15, 2003, after they said the hotel "reduced their wages, froze their health care contributions and demanded the right to subcontract out all the work to minimum wage subcontracted workers."

    During their years of picketing, workers have requested job security and pay increases and received support from then-Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Pat Quinn, Cook County president Toni Preckwinckle, who walked the line with them over the years.

    The union president said the decision to end the strike was a hard one.

    "It is the right time for the Union and the strikers to move on," UNITE HERE Local 1 President Henry Tamarin said. "The boycott has effectively dramatically reduced the hotel’s business. The hotel treats their workers and customers equally poor and the community knows it. There is no more to do there. The reclusive owner lives in Geneva and Tel Aviv and hasn’t been to Chicago since the strike started. We don’t see getting a contract here, and we have many more battles to fight for economic justice."

    The union said it has found jobs for more than 60 strikes over the decade and has made an unconditional offer to return to work on behalf of the strikers.

    It's not clear whether any strikers will choose to return. The union's website still promotes an anniversary protest on June 15.

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