Neighbors report quieter hotel strikers month after cease-and-desist from city
Loop North News

STREETERVILLE 166 E Superior St - MAP

(Above) Frame from security video at Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile showing strikers in front of the hotel at night. (Click on images to view larger versions.)

The children’s hospital next door tried discussion, then pleas to striking hotel workers that they turn down the volume of daily protests that had disrupted a Streeterville neighborhood since last September. According to a prosecutor for the City of Chicago, the union responded by protesting even louder.

19-Jul-19 – In early June, after enduring nine months of noise from striking union members outside the hotel next door, staff at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital invited representatives of Unite Here Local 1 to a presentation about how the noise was adversely affecting sick and injured children, their families, and their health care providers.

The presentation of evidence and discussion that followed did have an impact on the noise level.

According to a prosecutor for the City of Chicago’s Law Department, “the union in fact increased its noise levels...despite multiple requests from Lurie Hospital and demands from the city that the union reduce its noise levels.”

One month and a cease-and-desist letter later, strikers outside Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile are reduced to using picket signs and their unamplified voices to protest the hotel’s refusal to give in to their demands.

Since last September, when the strike was spread across 26 hotels in Chicago, noise from drums, sirens, loud chanting, megaphones, and other noisemakers, echoing in the concrete canyons of Streeterville, sometimes as early as 7:15 a.m. and at least one time going all night, from a small group of strikers walking in circles in front of the Cambria, tested the patience of hotel guests and neighbors.

The noise was quieter at times but at full volume again by June 13, when city prosecutor Natalia Delgado sent a cease-and-desist letter to Unite Here Local 1, informing the union of violations of the Chicago Noise Ordinance and an agreement last December that settled a lawsuit the union had filed against the city.

The letter to Patrick Calihan, the union’s legal representative, said increased noise levels in early June were “interfering with vital health care-giving functions” of Lurie Children’s Hospital.

Photo by Steven Dahlman

(Left) Striking hotel workers in front of Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile (building at left) in the rain on February 23. Lurie Children’s Hospital is the large building next door, visible in the background of this photo.

The letter, obtained by Loop North News through a Freedom of Information Act request, warned that if noise levels were not reduced by 7:00 p.m. on June 13, the city would “take appropriate enforcement action,” including issuing citations to strikers that would require them to attend administrative hearings and risk fines.

According to the general manager of the Cambria, the letter was presented in person to a union representative outside the hotel by a Chicago Police Department supervisor on the morning of June 13.

“The supervisor showed it to the union representative and let them know if they did not stop, they will be cited or arrested,” said Ian Heffron. “The union tried to explain that the noise is only directed at the hotel. The [police] then explained that noise travels.”

The next day, strikers had stopped using drums, whistles, a megaphone, and screaming.

“The long hostage situation appears to be over, at least for now,” said a neighbor who did not want to be identified. “Noise levels are back to a reasonable level.”

According to the Cambria, striking workers have been offered increased pay and health benefits but are rejecting a request by the hotel to increase the workload of housekeepers from 13 rooms per shift to 15.

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 19-Jul-19 1:06 AM

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