Congress Hotel: Six Years of Worker Injustice


A year ago I reported from the fifth year anniversary of Chicago’s Congress Park Hotel strike. I’m sorry to say that yesterday, one year later, I joined an even larger throng of marching, chanting, protesting Chicagoans along Michigan Avenue.
It’s not all bad – there have been encouraging signs that the strike is having an impact. Over the past year, strikers have led over 500 actions in Chicago, confronting top city leaders and national convention planners. In the last few months, three major conventions have jumped ship; in the past year alone, $700,000 worth of business has been moved from the Congress Hotel. Not long ago I blogged about Sam Hamer, the Northside Prep senior from my congregation who organized to have his High School’s prom moved out of the Congress.
If you don’t know about the longest currently running labor strike in the US, I urge you to click the links on this post. And here’s two more while I’m at it: Chicago Public Radio aired an interview yesterday with journalist Nathaniel Popper, who wrote an important article for the Jewish Forward earlier this month that explored the complicated Jewish role in the Congress Hotel crisis. (As I wrote last year, the word “Shande” comes to mind…)
Here’s hoping I’m not blogging about this one year from now.

One thought on “Congress Hotel: Six Years of Worker Injustice

  1. What a heart-wrenching situation. The Forward article was moving. As soon as I saw the name of the owner I thought “Uh oh, this issue is going to be about Syrian Jews.” My initial suspicions, I think, turn out to be correct. A big part of this has to do with the differences in how liberal Jews and frum Syrian Jews view the world. From what I have learned the Syrian Jewish community tends to be quite insular and mistrustful on non-Jews to the point that they refuse even to allow conversion. Hotel management’s view that fair treatment needn’t impact them, their Rabbi’s support, and the situation generally seems to rest on the idea that the Syrian businessmen don’t feel the same obligation, or see the same business case for treating workers fairly. Further it seems all the liberal Rabbis involved take the worker-friendly position. I wonder to what extent the story about different Jewish strands will come out.

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