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Friday, December 8

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The Mechanics
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Op-Ed Thu Sep 01 2011

Congress Hotel Strike Hits 3000 Days

I did not know where I wanted to go with the story on the Congress Hotel strike when I first started doing some research. I knew it had been eight years, strikers are typically still on the picket line and little of the negotiations are known. I wanted to treat it more as a piece of objective journalism instead of throwing my opinion around as I tend to do. So if you could follow me below I will divert and offer it here.

A child born on June 15th, 2003, the day the strike began, would be entering third grade in most school districts. People change dramatically during that timespan and yet more than half of the original workers remain dedicated to the strike and finding a resolution in the near future.

The workers I spoke with touted recent victories in diverting expos and events away from Congress Hotel. They found hope in these small gestures from outside companies despite the lack of progress in the negotiations. I found it inspiring while overwhelmed with a depressing realization: they may never return to work at a place they put in years of their lives.

Hotel ownership claimed in 2002 of losses and the need to decreases staff wages, while other union hotels in the loop increased them. According to Unite HERE Local 1 the hotel's offer remains the same nearly nine years later. Typically, negotiations are done in good faith. Both sides want a resolution and find some sort of common ground.

In this case - common ground is exceedingly rare. Both sides agree they continue to meet in order to find a resolution but from the sources I spoke with only the union has agreed to divert from their original demands. They offered a contract that contained lower wages but the hotel evidently remained strong in its position.

The hotel spokesperson referred questions to the ongoing legal proceedings. They are seeking monetary damages and allege secondary boycott activities against the union.

Common ground might be rare but good faith from the hotel just might be non-existent.

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