Congress Plaza Politics - NBC Chicago

Congress Plaza Politics

Expansion approved despite strike



    Congress Plaza Politics
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    Labor protests, including this one in 2004, have been going on outside the Congress hotel for years.

    The Congress Plaza Hotel won approval from the Chicago Plan Commission on Thursday to expand, further exacerbating the wounds from a strike that has lasted six years and become a litmus test for pols trying to prove their labor bona fides.

    "Union members and sympathetic aldermen opposed the proposal on the grounds that it rewards hotel ownership that allegedly pays substandard wages," the Sun-Timesreports.

    "When it became clear the measure would pass, the meeting was briefly disrupted by about 50 union supporters shouting 'Shame on you' at the panel as police led them from the City Council chamber."

    Mayor Daley, who appoints Plan Commission members, supports the expansion.

    Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) spoke against it - just the latest in a long line of politicians to weigh in on the hotel.

    "President Barack Obama joined the picket line in 2007 and vowed to be back when he was elected president," People's Weekly Worldnotes. "Rumors were playfully spread during this week’s protest that Obama would appear since he was in town addressing the American Medical Association convention."

    That didn't happen, though Gov. Pat Quinn and state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias "showed solidarity" at a march there this week.

    The expansion project isn't expected to begin for at least another six months.

    "Bernard Citron, an attorney for the hotel, told the commission of plans to add 56 hotel rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant and a health club as part of the $20 million project that he predicted would not begin until next year" the Tribunereports.

    The Congress Plaza was "once known as the Home of Presidents," the hotel's website says. "Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Franklin Roosevelt all rallied their partisans to discuss campaign strategies at this hotel."

    Now it's the home in the minds of many Chicagoans of "that strike," where the current president once walked the picked line.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor ofThe Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.