CHICAGO —  On a day dedicated to labor, some workers protested at the Kinzie Hotel in River North, accusing the business of retaliation upon demonstrating for a new contract.

“They locked us out on Labor Day,” said Karen Kent, a Unite Here Local 1 member, representing just 23 workers at the boutique Kinzie Hotel in River North. Union members feel the hotel’s management is breaking federal labor laws by locking out half of its unionized employees. 

“I am here to tell you that every single person counts,” said Bob Reiter of Chicago Federation of Labor. “I’m here to say every person counts.”

The contract between the union and the hotel expired on Aug. 31. Some union employees staged an informational picketing outside the hotel before coming into work the following day.

Kinzie Hotel worker José Sanchez has worked at the business for 16 years and said he was one of the staffers picketing. Thus far, Sanchez and 11 others have been given a letter stating that the hotel has agreed to a new contract and only had minor requests to resolve. 

According to the union, the agreement doesn’t allow picketing. As such, the hotel could hire replacement workers, and those locked out must apply for reinstatement after the strike. 

The problem is — there is no strike. 

“This lockout is illegal because it’s workers who demonstrated union activity,” Kent said.

The lockout is now drawing the ire of other unions in the state who came out to this protest. 

Just weeks ago, thousands of union workers at more than 30 major hotels downtown reached a three-year contract agreement. Kinzie Hotel is one of the last three in Chicago without a signed deal. Negotiations were scheduled for Sept. 19, but the date will likely include much more than a few unresolved minor requests. 

“If I know our union, we will keep coming back every day,” Kent said. “Our members will not back down and we will not be deterred.”

Kinzie Hotel management declined to offer comment to WGN News.