CHICAGO (CBS) — First, Chicago hotel employees had to deal with a strike for more than a year, and now, they find out their hotels are going to be housing coronavirus patients.
CBS 2 has learned some of those rooms are in a hotel we’ve told you about before. Workers there tell our Tara Molina they’ve dealt with enough and they’re scared.
CBS 2 reported back last summer from Hotel One Sixty-Six, formerly the Cambria Chicago, at 166 E. Superior St. At that time, it took a cease and desist to quiet striking workers amid complaints that they were disturbing patients at nearby Lurie Children’s Hospital late at night.
That strike began on Sept. 10, 2018, and ended just Monday through a city agreement.
But some of the employees who worked through it call this next announcement too much.
Following the drum-beating and chanting by striking workers outside the hotel last summer, signs went up near the children’s hospital just to the east declaring a “quiet zone.” That was the result of a move by the City Council in reaction to the nonstop, relentless noise just feet from the hospital’s bereavement rooms.
Now, the year-and-a-half-long strike is over as part of the city’s deal with Hotel One Sixty-Six to rent rooms for coronavirus isolation – relieving hospitals by quarantining people who are diagnosed with the virus or directly exposed.
It is a move that some hotel workers are not comfortable with.
“because of the year and half strike we are in hardship, and now we are in double hardship,” said one worker. “It’s scary.”
The worker is worried about backlash for speaking out, and thus, did not provide her name and appeared with her back to CBS 2’s camera while wearing a hoodie.
“I can’t imagine if one of my coworkers gets sick,” she said. “It’s too much for us.”
The worker said the majority worked through the strike and never got their raises because of it. Now, she said, they won’t get paid that money retroactively either.
“They offered us $2.50 hazard pay,” she said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday that the city will partner with five hotels to house quarantine and isolated individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. Space will be set up for 1,000 people by Tuesday and 2,000 by the end of the week.
“Thereby relieving the burden on our hospitals and focus their beds and people who need acute care,” Lightfoot said.
As for safety concerns, according to the city, hotel workers won’t directly interact with people in isolation. The city’s Department of Public Health will supervise each site.
Lightfoot also said all hotel employees will be properly trained.
But the worker said it’s still a risk many, who also work as caretakers, can’t afford to take.
“They’re scared to get sick and bring it home to their elderly parents,” she said.
Molina reached out to the hotel about these concerns and had not heard late Tuesday. When she does, we will update this story.