O'Hare Airport

O'Hare Restaurant Workers Warn Holiday Travelers of Possible Strike

Restaurant and concessions workers at O’Hare Airport are warning holiday travelers that their trips could be affected by a possible strike for more affordable health insurance and higher wages.

Representatives from Unite Here Local 1 and HMSHost met Thursday for the union’s ongoing contract negotiations, according to union spokesman Noah Carson-Nelson. HMSHost operates venues at the airport including Starbucks, Chili’s, The Publican Tavern, Wolfgang Puck Express and Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera. The workers’ contract with HMSHost expired in August, according to the union.

In a statement Friday from Carson-Nelson, Unite Here Local 1 said the two parties remained “far apart on key issues” after the session, and a strike could happen “at any time.”

“The company is proposing temporary solutions to permanent problems,” Tamekah Shivers, a Starbucks barista at HMSHost and union negotiating committee member, said in a statement.

Unite Here members will be hand-billing at O’Hare and airports across the country to warn holiday travelers of the possible strike, according to the union’s statement.

A representative for HMSHost said in an emailed statement that the two groups had a “productive” negotiating session and that HMSHost is hopeful an agreement will be reached soon.

“In the meantime, all our restaurants will be staffed and open for business, and we continue to be focused on serving travelers,” HMSHost’s statement said.

More than 1,200 bartenders, baristas, cooks, servers and other workers represented by Unite Here Local 1 voted in favor of authorizing the possibility of a strike by 84 percent, Carson-Nelson said. The Dec. 7 vote authorized the union’s negotiating committee to call a strike at any time. There is no set date for a strike.

Contract negotiations between Unite Here Local 1 and HMSHost were next scheduled for Jan. 11, 2018, according to the union.

Copyright CHIST - SunTimes
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