Members of the IUF-affiliated HERE voted overwhelmingly on September 6 in favor of a new city-wide collective agreement covering 7,000 employees in 27 Chicago-area hotels. With extended negotiations continuing past the September 1 strike deadline facilitated by mediation from city and state officials, the employers agreed to wage and benefit gains significantly in advance of their previous “final offer”. Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Radisson, Sheraton and Westin units are among those covered by the agreement.
Under the previous agreement, Chicago housekeepers earned less than half of what union workers earn in New York, and were also behind union workers in other major urban areas. Workers were required to pay 85 dollars per month for family health insurance, with many forced to seek public assistance to make ends meet.
The new agreement brings overall economic gains of 54 percent over the life of the four-year agreement, with employer healthcare contributions to increase by a total of 94 percent. Non-tipped workers are to receive USD 3.27 in raises over the four years – a 37 percent increase for housekeepers.
The union also won four paid sick days over the life of the contract. The previous contract had none. Other gains include immigrant rights language and subcontracting provisions to enhance job security.