CHICAGO (CBS) — Neighbors in Streeterville are fed up with striking hotel workers they say have been causing a commotion for nearly 10 months, making noise late into the night right outside Lurie Children’s Hospital.
The strike outside the Cambria Magnificent Mile Hotel and its chanting are taking place right outside the children’s hospital’s bereavement rooms.
The strike ended at 25 other Chicago hotels after five weeks.
People who claim the group is violating the city’s noise ordinance say the strikers are making loud sounds well past 10 p.m., disturbing people and patients in a fragile state, despite being offered the same terms the union agreed to with more than 20 other striking hotels in Chicago.
“It was 11:45 p.m., and not only was it loud, it was obnoxiously loud. Yelling and hopping and hollering,” said Streeterville resident Jennifer Heim.
It’s affecting some when they’re learning their sick child is dying.
“The bereavement rooms are so close,” Heim said. “I’m all for protesting and for standing up for what you believe in, but where’s the civility of these individual protesters?”
“I had a woman with a brain tumor and a child with bone marrow cancer that was getting diagnosed the next day to see how many months he had to live — 21 — that could not sleep because they were outside for 24 hours,” said one Cambria Hotel employee.
The group of people on strike knows it.
“It would be very unfair to them because I have children. If one of my kids were up there right now, I would definitely have compassion for the children that are sick because if my child was there I would definitely care if someone cares about that. But apparently no one does,” said Samuel Yolo, a Unite Here union member on strike.
When asked how he could say that as the one making the noise, Yolo blamed the company.
“How can you say that if it’s the company that is putting their workers on strike?” he said.
The sign greeting Cambria guests in the lobby claims the hotel group offered the union, Unite Here, and the workers outside the same terms it negotiated with every other hotel in the city: increased pay, health benefits and more.
“We are asking for year round medical coverage,” Yolo said.
Employees inside clarified that management wants to increase housekeepers’ workloads from 13 rooms per shift to 15. They said the majority returned months ago.
“A lot of us are happy with our jobs here,” an employee said.
“It doesn’t seem unreasonable to me to ask them to have their protest without the amplified bullhorns and without the sirens and without the drums,” said Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd).
Hopkins said hospital staff have taken the striking workers on tours of the parts of the hospital wards affected, so they really understand.
But it’s still happening, sometimes all night long.
“We’re going back to court. We have no alternative at this point. The strike has continued for 10 months now, and there’s no end in sight,” Hopkins said.
According to Hopkins, negotiations are happening now, and city attorneys are prepared to go to court and enforce the noise control ordinance.
A spokesperson for the hospital said the noise level has significantly increased and is distressing to patients, family and staff.
A Chicago police spokesman said if hotel management signs criminal complaints for disorderly conduct, then police “will absolutely take action.”
CBS 2 left messages for the official spokesperson for Unite Here Local 1 and never heard back.