Unionized hotel workers rally in Federal Plaza demanding to be rehired when economy improves

The pandemic has dealt a crushing blow to thousands of hotel workers in the Chicago-area.

Now, they’re putting heat on the hotel industry to hold their jobs for better days ahead.

About 100 unionized hotel workers rallied in Federal Plaza, most have been laid off for months.

“We’ve been struggling. I am a single mother of five. I have bills to pay. I have to pay the rent, the bills are piling up. I’m looking everywhere for a job but it’s not easy because everybody is looking for a job right now,” said Former Hyatt employee, Melisa Magana.

The union says 12,000 Chicago hotel workers have been laid off during the pandemic.


They’re demanding the hotels promise to rehire these workers when the economy improves.

“When the guests come back to our hotels, our city, workers should come back to their jobs,” said United One President Karen Kent.

Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association President Michael Jacobson says Chicago’s hotel occupancy rate is down to 16 percent and says cancellations spiked after Gov. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.

“I think yesterday’s announcement was the nail in the coffin for at least the winter months. I think you’ll see a lot suspend their operations this winter,” said Jacobson.

Sixteen downtown Chicago hotels have already closed their doors, and industry experts say it is likely some are gone for good.