Ordinance would force hotel managers to disclose strikes

When I was at the Congress Hotel in June, I ran into a couple who unwittingly booked a stay on the same day a worker strike there turned six years old.

A few yards below their room, the governor, state treasurer, several aldermen and union leaders from across the country staged a massive protest, shouting worker-solidarity chants into a megaphone.

It suffices to say that the couple didn't have the most peaceful stay. But if those folks come back to Chicago, they might be able to avoid a repeat experience.

Yesterday, the City Council's Finance Committee...more

Event highlights battle for equality in Chicago's building trades

If you're a civil-rights buff and have a couple of hours off today, you might want to stop by Roosevelt University.

Erik Gellman, a history professor at Roosevelt who helped me with yesterday's Blackstone article, mentioned a panel that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the struggle to integrate Chicago's building trades.

He explained that, although a lot of people tie the city's civil-rights movement with Martin Luther King Jr.'s efforts in the city, many of the really interesting things in the struggle happened in the few years later, when the debate moved from housing...more

Workers: Builders Center has agreed to pay back wages

A general partner at the Builders Center of Chicago has agreed to pay two workers $7,700 in wages they claimed were owed to them, according to the labor organization Arise Chicago.

The workers, Eladio Perez and Roberto Jacinto, planned to demonstrate outside the center with advocates tomorrow, but organizers at Arise have canceled the protest.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, they said Anatoly Zarkhin promised to pay the workers for painting, maintenance and janitorial work they performed between October and May. He paid his first installment to them on Friday, after I mentioned the situation on...more

Labor links: holiday hangover edition

Teamsters Joint Council 25 endorsed Pat Quinn for his first full term as Illinois governor. Reuters

Labor groups renewed their campaign against Wal-Mart on Tuesday, launching a coalition that calls for improvements in the company's wages, health care, and environmental and labor policies. The UFCW began airing two commercials Tuesday in union-friendly cities such as Chicago. The Washington Post

More Wal-Mart: The company has been stymied in its effort to put a new generation of "supercenters" in Chicago and other cities. Los Angeles Times

Lee Sustar looks at solidarity...more

Labor Day events in Chicago

Congress Hotel Action
Community leaders will deliver an open letter to the management of the Congress Hotel, calling for an end to the six-year strike there.
Expected guests: Gov. Pat Quinn; Ald. Toni Preckwinkle; Ald. Toni Foulkes; Rev. Dr. Rita Root, Chicago Metropolitan Association of the United Church of Christ; Rev. Dr. Calvin Morris, Community Renewal Society; Rev. Larry Dowling, St. Agatha Catholic Church; and workers.
Location: Outside the Congress Plaza Hotel, 520 South Michigan Avenue.
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Contact: Jessica Lawlor at (312) 446-1767.

March for Immigrant Worker Rights
The rally will include a...more

Program links social justice with religion on Labor Day weekend

This Labor Day weekend, workers are counting on the power of prayer.

As the holiday approaches, more than 1,000 religious congregations will participate in a project that binds organized labor with churches, synagogues and mosques around the country.

Organizers say that in Chicago alone, more than 100 churches will take part in Labor in the Pulpits, a joint project of Chicago-based Interfaith Worker Justice and the AFL-CIO. Among other things, it brings union members into congregations as guest speakers, and it enlists clergy to talk about organized labor.

"The program is about really linking...more

Workers claim Builders Center owes them nearly $8,000

Religious leaders and worker advocates in the city plan to protest managers at the Builders Center of Chicago next week.

They say the company owes wages to two workers there for painting, maintenance and janitorial work they performed between October and May. According to a statement from Arise Chicago, the center owes Eladio Perez $2,640 and Roberto Jacinto $5,156.

Organizers say the workers reached the company by phone on July 6, and that they sent a follow-up demand for payment by fax a week later. After a month of unreturned phone calls, they say, the workers joined forces...more

Feds looking into labor practices at tool factory

A strike at a southwest Chicago tool factory has caught the attention of U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.

Solis, in town yesterday as part of Labor Day celebrations, said the Department of Labor is examining allegations of unfair labor practices at the SK Hand Tool Corp., where dozens of workers have been picketing since last week.

"They have notified our department, and we are looking into that matter," Solis said.

She was responding to a question from the Daily News after her speech at the Union League Club of Chicago....more

Union contracts for workers at 30 downtown hotels expire today

In my article about health care this morning, I mentioned that contracts for workers at several of the city's hotels expire today.

In past years, labor unions and managers at the hotels have been able to iron out new contracts before or shortly after their old ones expire. But that's not the case this time around, and union organizers are making that abundantly clear.

"We're not close," union spokeswoman Annemarie Strassel told me this morning. "We're hitting our deadline today at midnight, and we're not even close."

Strassel's union, U.N.I.T.E. H.E.R.E., represents about 6,000 workers at 30 downtown...more

Labor links: Election-rigging edition

Three former officials of one of the largest Teamsters locals in the country were sentenced to prison for rigging two union elections in Chicago in 2004. Trib | Earlier: Federal officials hail the decision against the Teamsters. Daily News

Twenty-five years after they began an organizing campaign, doctors at the county's health system finally are allowed to form a union at its flagship hospital. Daily News

Marilyn Stewart, CTU president, will address a City Club of Chicago lunch. Defender

Illinois has created a $10 million fund to provide rebates to conventions...more

No tooling: Teamsters strike against Chicago-area toolmaker

There's a lot of handwringing over hand tools in Chicago lately.

At 5:30 this morning, dozens of workers were scheduled to strike outside a Chicago factory of McCook-based SK Hand Tools Corp. The walkout is the workers' latest effort to try to win back their health-care benefits and negotiate better wages.

In May, Teamsters Local 743 charged SK Hand Tool Corp. with an unfair labor practice, alleging that the company unilaterally took away health benefits for its workers. Friday, the case ratcheted up a notch: The union followed up its earlier complaint to the...more

Labor links: furlough edition

Faculty at the University of Illinois say that when the governor picks new university trustees, they want to have some input. The university's Coalition of Trades and Labor Unions sent Governor Pat Quinn a resolution asking that he consider their opinions when picking a new slate of trustees. Central Illinois Proud

The Daley Administration says a federal court ruling against forced furlough days in the Washington, D.C., area should have no impact here in Chicago. Chicago negotiated with most of its labor unions so that they would agree to accept furlough days. WBBM

Labor links: Obama edition

President Barack Obama will be the guest of honor at the Pullman Labor Day Celebration. In These Times

After wringing furlough days and other cost-cutting concessions from most of the unions representing city workers, Mayor Richard M. Daley left little doubt that teachers would be asked to join the call for shared sacrifice. Sun-Times

A union representing newspaper workers should be allowed to see details about the Tribune Co.'s proposal to give bonuses totaling up to $70 million to the company's top managers, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled Tuesday. Associated Press


This week in Chicago labor news

The Helmets to Hardhats job fair was a collaborative effort between the military, labor unions and private industry to put returning vets to work. CBS2

The former president of a Chicago investment firm must restore $50 million in losses to five pension funds that covered more than 60,000 workers. Daily News

Mary Mitchell: it is ironic that while labor unions are opposing Wal-Mart, these organizations have a long tradition of failing to recruit and train blacks to fill high-paying union jobs. Sun-Times

Unionized workers at the University of Chicago Medical Center have voted down a proposed...more

Union rejects U of C hospital contract

Unionized workers at the University of Chicago Medical Center have voted down a proposed labor contract, citing concerns over benefits and subcontracting issues.

The contract with Teamsters Local 743 covers nearly 1400 clerical, service and maintenance workers at the medical center.

“We ... feel our members deserve more,” says Teamsters Local 743 representative J Burger.

Union representative Burger says the union wants contract language prohibiting sub-contracting.  He also says that under the hospital’s proposal, “the healthcare increases are too high and the wages are too low.”

The university released a statement today expressing...more