CHICAGO — United Center concession workers staged a strike Sunday for higher wages, health care for all employees, pensions and other benefits. It’s unclear if the strike will extend to this week’s Big Ten tournament.
“All the workers want health care. All workers want pensions. Those are some critical issues,” said Karen Kent, President of Unite Here Local 1. “And we want to make sure that workers are able to achieve that.”
More than 600 employees who work for Levy restaurants and are a part of Unite Here Local 1, a union representing concession workers, took to the picket lines. Those represented include food servers, cooks, dishwashers, and bartenders who work at the United Center, who have been working at the venue without a contract for the last three years.
Kent said that there are a number of long-term workers who want to remain in their positions. Tawanda Murray, who has worked at the United Center for 28 years, is one of those employees, but health insurance is a major sticking point because she’s only covered two-thirds of the year.
“I have coverage, but I have it for 8 months,” Murray said. “And the other 4 months I have to figure it out.”
Unite Here Local 1 and Levy Restaurants have come to the bargaining table more than 20 times, but have still been unable to come to an agreement that settles healthcare, pensions, wages and benefits.
Levy released the following statement in part Sunday:
“We have met, or made significant movement on, every ask the union has made that would directly benefit team members. We have offered to bring in a federal mediator which the union declined. It is very difficult to understand why union leadership continues to hold-up their members from receiving these benefits.”Levy Restaurants
Another bargaining session is scheduled to take place Tuesday and a spokesperson for Levy tells WGN that a plan is in place for concessions to continue at the United Center during the strike.