Workers on strike at O'Hare Hyatt

September 3, 2010 (ROSEMONT, Ill.)

The action is part of a national strike against Hyatt Hotels. Members of the union have been without a contract since last August.

Workers out here say enough is enough. They want a contract and they want it now, and they plan to make as much noise as possible, until they get it.

The protestors were banging pots and pans in protest over stalled contract negotiations. About 400 Hyatt hotel workers near O'Hare airport have walked off the job since this morning, including housekeeper Melka Lugonjic, who says she has been given more work and less money.

"They do nothing to help us or change something," said Lugonjic. "We are not safe here."

About 6,000 Hyatt hotel workers have been working without a contract since last year. The strike is part of a nationwide one-day walkout. Locally, the O'Hare location is the only Chicago-area Hyatt affected.

"It is just that a big corporation like this makes so much but don't want to look out for the people who work for them."

Housekeepers, food and beverage workers, cooks, dishwashers, bellmen and doormen say the hotels are understaffed and Hyatt wants to eliminate the option of family health insurance for new employees. Union leaders believe the Chicago-based hotel chain is using the recession as an excuse to penny pinch.

"It is the bottom line with the Hyatt. The longer that they can stall it, the more money that they're gonna save," said Local 450 President Bill Biggerstaff. "It is cheaper for them to run overtime than it is to bring in people and pay for health and welfare."

Hyatt issued a statement today saying the company is negotiating in good faith. Company officials say they are disappointed that the union has chosen to disrupt business instead of being productive while they are bargaining.

"We had a vote," said Biggerstaff. "People came out and voted, and they voted 92% to do this... action today."

Hyatt officials say that despite the union act, guests can still expect service at the hotels.

In the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Friday afternoon, it seemed like the hotel was operating as usual.

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