Hyatt workers and supporters announced today they will ask patrons
to boycott three Chicago Hyatt locations as contentious negotiations
over a new contract between the firm and UNITE-HERE Local 1 drag on. Some 250 local Jewish leaders, citing the Torah, pledged their support for the boycott call earlier this afternoon. Here's Rabbi Brant Rosen explaining their position:
week, the battle for a new collective bargaining agreement between the
Chicago-based hotel behemoth and Local 1 will reach its one-year
anniversary. Over the past few months, Hyatt workers and their
supporters have sought to escalate pressure steadily on the firm, which
union officials say is trying to take advantage of the economic
downturn to lock-in a contract that would flatten wages and shrink
health care benefits for workers. In May, employees at the Hyatt
Regency conducted a wildcat strike. In June, workers picketed the company's annual shareholder's meeting. Last month, Local 1 members took to the streets outside of the Park Hyatt to stage a massive protest. A strike at the chain's Chicago properties is alreadyauthorized, and could begin if Local 1's Hyatt bargaining committee calls for it.
The Rockford Register-Star reported
today that unemployment benefit fraud in Illinois increased 35 percent
last year and nearly $30 million of those benefits have not been paid
back to the state. This would be an interesting and problematic
statistic were it not for the fact that the amount of available
benefits also quadrupled during that time. In other words, the fraud
rate tracked closely with the increase in users and benefit length.
"There are outliers, and it’s unfortunate that there are, but they
exist," said Illinois Department of Employment Security spokesperson
Greg Rivara. "Fraud is not constrained to a recession."
the state must always keep stay vigilant about preventing fraud, a
bigger issue facing Illinois' unemployment system is its now-bankrupt benefit fund. We ran through some progressives solutions to that problem in May.
During their brief stay in Washington, U.S. House Democrats introduced legislation to create a fifth tier of jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Like a similar bill
in the Senate, it would extend the maximum number of weeks of federal
and state benefits available by 20 weeks in states with unemployment
rates over 10 percent. (Illinois would qualify.)
odds of passage are long. After all, no Republicans in the U.S. Senate
backed the latest unemployment insurance bill, which was less expansive
than this attempt. Undoubtedly, the Democratic leadership would have to
carve out spending on other worthy programs to ensure the extension is deficit-neutral. But so
long as the number of jobless workers far outweighs the number of job openings, it's a bill progressives ought rally behind.