“Show me at that table you care about” – NBC Chicago

Hundreds of workers who operate food and drink stands at the United Center prepare for the picket line after members of UNITE HERE Local 1, a union that represents more than 16,000 hospitality workers in the Chicago, voted Tuesday in favor of allowing a knock.

“We’ve been without a contract for over two years now, and we think that’s far too long,” said stand manager Jamie O’Neill.

O’Neill, who has worked at the United Center for 32 years, says she is fighting for health insurance.

“I don’t have health insurance. I’ve spent more than half my life in this business and I feel like I’m entitled to something,” she said.

His co-worker, Tawanda Murray, is an attendant at Market 1800. His priority is a living wage.

“I’ve been there 28 years. It’s tough,” Murray said.

“You need healthy workers to do their jobs. We want a decent living wage increase. We want a pension plan,” she said.

Levy, which operates food stalls inside the United Center, employs nearly 700 food servers, bartenders, suite attendants, cooks and dishwashers.

In a statement, Levy said they were “disheartened by UNITE HERE Local 1’s vote because there is a fair and generous proposal on the table.”

The two parties have held 17 negotiation sessions, starting in September 2021.

“Our current wage and economic proposal is the largest in the history of our strong working relationship with Local 1,” a representative for Levy said in a statement.

“Our comprehensive proposal includes health insurance coverage for more union members, a substantial reduction in qualification requirements, an immediate wage increase, a guaranteed starting hourly rate of at least $20 for positions without tip and the addition of a tip guarantee for tipped items.

A strike has not yet been called but could be at any time, according to union members. Union president Karen Kent says workers are ready to do whatever it takes.

“These are things we should have gotten a long time ago,” Murray said. “Show me at this table that you care. Show me that you appreciate what we do.”

“It’s hurtful. It feels like they don’t respect us or value our work ethic,” O’Neill said. “I’ve spent half my life with this company and [have] nothing to retire me.”

Levy says that if a strike is called, she “will continue to provide food and beverages at United Center events to ensure the fan experience is not interrupted.”

The next trading session is scheduled for February 8.

NBC Chicago

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