Congress Hotel Strike


On August 1, 2002, a five-year citywide hotel workers contract expired. After a standoff between UNITE HERE Local 1 and the city's hotel owners, the union won a new citywide contract with improved wages and benefits (see entry on Pioneer Court). In the 1990s, the owners of the Congress Hotel had pulled out of the multi-employer association, so when the Congress Hotel workers' contract expired on December 31, 2002, they needed to fight for their own contract. In May 2003, the Congress Hotel submitted its final contract offer, which included severe wage and benefits cuts. In response, on June 15, 2003, the workers at the Congress Hotel went out on strike. As of May 26, 2006, the Congress Hotel workers continue to walk the picket line against the unyielding owners. The Congress Hotel picket line is a critical front in a larger struggle for the labor rights of service workers in Chicago's massive hotel and tourism business. The attached photo (taken by Garth Liebhafer) shows workers on the picket line. For the latest on the Congress Hotel strike, click on the title above to link to UNITE HERE Local 1's strike information website.

Labor Trail




520 S 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