Hotel Online  Special Report

City of Chicago Sues Congress Plaza Hotel; 
Building Department Finds 68 Violations
CHICAGO – December 15, 2003 - HERE Local 1 announced today that the City of Chicago has filed a complaint against the Congress Hotel owner charging 68 categories of building code violations. In the complaint, the City asks the court for injunctive relief, the appointment of a receiver, and even an order declaring the property abandoned if necessary.

City Building Department inspectors reported numerous violations including: failure to remove exposed wiring, failure to install system II emergency lighting, failure to repair or rebuild defective foundation, failure to remove accumulation of refuse and debris and keep premises clean, failure to remove obstruction from exit way that hampers travel and evacuation, failure to provide tight-fitting metal strainer for floor drains to prevent ingress of rats into building, failure to remove sewage and stagnant water from basement, failure to rid premises of rodents and seal rodent holes, failure to exterminate roaches and keep dwelling insect-free, failure to supply adequate hot water, and several other problems. The inspections occurred in late November.

“We’re not surprised,” said HERE Local 1 President Henry Tamarin. “The Congress Hotel owners have mistreated workers, customers, and the City of Chicago. This renegade hotel’s reckless disregard for the safety of customers and employees is an embarrassment to the city’s hospitality industry.”

Congress Hotel workers have been on strike since June 15, after hotel management unilaterally cut wages and benefits. The National Labor Relations Board has charged the Congress Hotel with committing numerous unfair labor practices, including failing to bargain in good faith and illegally implementing wage cuts. Hearings on the unfair labor practices are scheduled to begin in February 2004.

“What we want is a fair contract, like the other downtown hotels. We are glad the City is taking action to get Albert Nasser to clean up his act,” said striking telephone operator Sharon Williams, referring to the hotel’s key investor, an international garment importer based in New York and Geneva. “Nasser has shown he can’t run a decent operation, so he ought to sell the hotel to someone who can.”

The case will be heard by Municipal Court Judge Daniel Joseph Lynch in Room 1103 of the Daley Center, on Thursday December 18 at 9:30 a.m.

Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union
(HERE) Local 1
Lars Negstad
312-663-4373 ext. 243
Also See: Union Workers at Chicago's Congress Plaza Hotel Vote 113 to 1 in Favor of a Strike / May 2003
Chicago's Congress Plaza Hotel Responds to HERE Local 1 Press Release / May 2003
Nearly 500 Chicago Hotel Workers Picket the Congress Plaza Hotel; Hotel's Final Offer Includes Right to Subcontract Out All Jobs / May 2003
The Impact of the HERE Union Agreement on Chicago Hotels: An Analysis Yields a Profit Decline on
Nearly Five Percent / Scott K. Steilen / Sept 2002

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