Thursday, May 7, 2009

South Loop: Home to the Longest Active Strike in the Country

Yep, our lovely neighborhood is home to the longest active strike in the United States. If you haven't noticed the picket line in front of the Congress Plaza Hotel (Michigan Ave & Congress), then we suggest you get out more often. The group UNITE HERE local 1 is in charge of the protest and they even have a website.

The strike has amazingly been going on for over six years, but no progress has been made:
Little progress has been made since the d├ętente began. In fact, Congress employees watched UNITE-HERE win another contract for the city’s housekeepers in 2006, meaning the Congress’ average hourly wage of $8.21 now sits 37 percent below the region’s average.
The Congress hotel was an amazing place back in the day and was the home to many upper crust individuals who would visit Chicago:
Erected within spitting distance of Chicago’s Grant Park on the eve of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, the Congress prided itself on providing a luxurious resting spot for the world’s well-to-do. Its opulent banquet hall was the first American hotel ballroom to use air-conditioning. Its chic nightclub featured a revolving bandstand of the nation’s finest musicians, including bandleader Benny Goodman, who recorded his radio show on location in 1935 and 1936. It was even dubbed the “Home of Presidents,” playing host to eight commanders-in-chief (Cleveland, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Roosevelt) and serving as the Democratic Party’s headquarters throughout the 1932 election cycle.
Now the only thing the hotel and presidents have in common is the picket line. Politicians and even presidential candidates often stop by to offer their support (such as candidate Obama and John Edwards).

It's an interesting story on many fronts and one that doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.

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