Pioneer Court


Rallying site for an August 23, 2002, march of 4,000 hotel workers along Michigan Avenue. The workers marched as part of their fight for a new contract with Chicago's hotels. On August 1, 2002, a five-year citywide hotel contract covering 7,000 workers expired. As of that time, Chicago's hotels severely underpaid and overworked their employees. For example, a housekeeper in Chicago earned $8.83 per hour and cleaned sixteen rooms per day, while a comparable worker in New York City earned $18.15 per hour and worked thirty-five hours per week. The hotel workers, sixty percent of whom were members of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) Local 1 (now UNITE HERE Local 1), pressured hotel owners to bargain for a new contract. Many other unions, churches, and community organizations joined in to support the hotel workers. In July 2002, for example, Teamsters Local 705, proved space for a massive food drive to prepare for a potential strike to which over 100 churches and other organizations contributed. On August 12, 2002, 4,000 members of UNITE HERE gathered at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, and 98% of the workers voted in favor of a strike if necessary. With this show of solidarity and militancy, UNITE HERE ultimately won a citywide contract in 2002, which, accoring to the union's website, covered "nearly all union hotels downtown. Workers won major wage and benefit increases. Housekeepers who had been making $8.83 an hour now earn $11.05." The final raise to $12.10 an hour went into effect on May 1, 2006.

Labor Trail





435 N Michigan Ave

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at:

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer