The measure would force licensed hotels and motels in the city to require that newly opened positions be offered first to previously laid-off employees. The new rule would include employees who have worked at a site for at least six months and were terminated on or after January 31, 2020 for “non-disciplinary reasons.” It applies to all hotels and motels, whether or not they have unionized employees.
Offers should be made in writing by registered mail and by email and SMS if possible. Employees would be qualified if they were in the same or a similar position when they left. Those with seniority would be given preference for positions if more than one former employee qualifies. Workers would have five working days to accept or decline the offer, compared to 10 days in the original proposal. The requirement would end in 2023, three years earlier than the original proposal.
“During the pandemic, too many women have been fired through no fault of their own, some after decades of service,” Karen Kent, president of Local 1, of Unite HERE told Aldermen at the committee meeting. today. “Now that the pandemic is fading and the city is reopening, these women deserve to get back to work. “
Kent described the order as a “critical first step in a fair recovery that Chicago hotel workers deserve.”
Hotel occupancy rates are “still a fraction” of what they typically are in June, Hotel Association’s Michael Jacobson said at the same meeting. The layoffs “could have been even worse” if the hotels had been forced to close completely. The deal is a “happy medium”, with many of the concerns voiced months ago largely ironed out.
“If you were working with us before the pandemic, hotels naturally want people who are trained, who know our hotel and who are the most loyal. We want to rehire on the basis of seniority. If you’ve been in a hotel for 25, 30 years. . . you’re a hell of a worker, you’re loyal, ”Jacobson told Crain’s. “We want these people to come back first, especially now with issues of staff return and managing a new reality, our hotels want the most skilled and loyal people to come back.”
For the week ending June 5, hotel occupancy rates were 42%, the first time the industry has passed 40% in a week since the onset of COVID. “That’s good, but that doesn’t include hotels like the Palmer House, the Hilton Chicago that were still closed at the time,” Jacobson said.
The ordinance will go to full city council for a vote later this month.