Hundreds Protest Hospitality Layoffs

Roughly 200 arrested

By BJ Lutz
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 8:30 PM CDT
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hospitality employees closed down a partion of Chicago Avenue with a sit-in meant to protest job cuts and the loss of their benefits.

hospitality employees closed down a partion of Chicago Avenue with a sit-in meant to protest job cuts and the loss of their benefits.

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Believing hospitality companies are using the shaky economy as an excuse to further squeeze workers and eliminate jobs, hundreds of hospitality workers rallied outside the Park Hyatt Hotel on Thursday afternoon.

Roughly 200 people were arrested, including Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) and Jane Ramsey, the Executive Director of Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

The hospitality employees closed down a partion of Chicago Avenue with a sit-in meant to protest job cuts and the loss of their benefits.  They wore "I am not afraid" T-Shirts and shouted "Si Se Puede... Yes We Can."

The action comes amid union contract negotiations, and the protestors say companies like Hyatt are laying off workers while taking home record profits.  They've cited Boston as an example, where 100 long-term housekeepers were replaced with low-wage workers from a subcontractor.

The protest was sponsored by a group called Unite, which represents over 15,000 hotel and food service workers in Chicago and casino workers in Northwest Indiana.

Similar protests have been held in San Francisco and Boston.

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