United Center concession workers strike for one day

Concession workers at the United Center went on strike for a day on Sunday, affecting food and beverage service during the afternoon’s Chicago Bulls game.

A brief strike by members of Unite Here Local 1 was designed to increase pressure on employers ahead of this week’s Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament, which runs Wednesday through next Sunday at the United Center. Workers have authorized unlimited strikes that can be called at any time.

Unite Here is in talks with concession operator Levy, part of Compass Group. A company spokesperson said fans will be able to get food and drinks for Sunday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, but the menu will be limited and will be available at private dining spaces Queen’s, Stadium Club. The service was not available at the Ketel One Club.

The next negotiating session is scheduled for Tuesday. Union members said their demands for pension schemes were the main obstacle. “Workers need pensions. The company had the opportunity to improve this situation, but chose not to,” said Local 1 official Maria Hernandez.

In a statement, the company said it was considering pension proposals and proposed significant improvements in wages and benefits. Levy said the union’s main demands were a “card check” neutrality proposal and a company donation to a union-run health fund. The neutrality of the “card check” could help the union recruit more members.

However, Hernandez said neither of those two subjects are included in the union’s current proposal.

Tawanda Murray, a 28-season concession worker at the United Center, said in a statement provided by the union, “The Big Ten are coming and the company knows what we want. , we are prepared to continue picketing if necessary.

United Here Local 1 represents the approximately 700 servers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, and more who work at the United Center. Levy, the United Center concession operator, said it was ready to man the concession in the event of a strike.

Anthony Vasquez/The Sun Times

This week’s tournament is a pressure point for settlement. Levy doesn’t want it to be interrupted, but union members may also be reluctant to strike during the lucrative five-day event.

Levy said he was ready to make concessions in the event of a strike.

The union represents United Center’s approximately 700 servers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, and more. Many of them say they rely on food pantries and welfare for their livelihoods.

A company official said significant progress had been made in more than 20 negotiating sessions. In addition to a $4 to $5 hourly wage increase, Levy said the company has contracted a new health care program that will allow workers at Wrigley Field and Guarantee Rate Field to qualify for insurance for hours worked. He said he offered suggestions.

“We have responded to all requests or made significant moves that the union would have directly benefited team members,” a company statement said. “We offered to bring in a federal mediator, but the union declined. I understand why union leaders continue to prevent union members from receiving these benefits. is very difficult.”

Local 1 represents over 16,000 hospitality workers in the Chicago area. United Center concession workers strike for one day

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