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UNITE HERE Considering Picketing the Chicago Trump International Hotel & Tower
 to Express Frustration Over Failure to Reach a Deal with the Trump Organization
By Stephen Franklin, Chicago TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 30, 2008 - Trump International Hotel & Tower plans on opening Wednesday, and the hotel workers' union is likely to soon show up, but not by invitation.

Officials of Local 1 of UNITE HERE say they are considering picketing the Chicago luxury hotel to express their frustration over the failure to reach a deal with the Trump Organization.

Annemarie Strassel, a Local 1 spokeswoman, said talks with hotel officials broke off several months ago when the officials balked at including food and beverage workers in the potential bargaining unit. The local could not allow them to be excluded, she said, because these workers "are the heart and soul of Local 1."

Trump officials in New York said only Donald J. Trump could speak on the issue but he was not available. Trump officials in Chicago could not be reached.

About 300 workers are expected to staff the hotel, which occupies five floors of the 92-story tower at Wabash Avenue and the Chicago River, the union said. "All we are asking for is a fair process so that those workers can decide whether they will have a union or not," Strassel said.

Winning a foot in the door at the Trump hotel would be a key gain for Local 1, which has built clout among Chicago hotels as a result of more aggressive bargaining and campaigning in recent years.

Of the local's 15,000 members, about 6,500 work in Chicago hotels. Its agreements cover about 18,000 of the 30,000 hotel rooms in the city. The union has contracts for workers at three Trump facilities in Atlantic City, N.J., and one in New York City.

"Hotel jobs used to be poverty-level jobs but that's changed here," said Henry Tamarin, Local 1's president. "The question is whether the Trump Organization will choose a path of confrontation or cooperation with us."

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sfranklin@tribune.com

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Copyright (c) 2008, Chicago Tribune

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