Scabby the Rat's latest appearance is at 1000 W. Washington, where Painters District Council #14 is protesting the use of nonunion labor. Credit: Brita Hunegs

As the hotel workers’ strike winds down, another union is ramping up a strike of its own. Members of the Painters District Council #14 launched a picket Monday at 1000 W. Washington, where the owners of the building, Lieberman Management Company, have contracted a nonunion company, CertaPro Painters.

Victor Hernandez, a business representative for the council, sees this form of labor as mistreatment, “I’m fighting for working-class people to earn a decent wage,” said Hernandez. “I know what these people are making, and it’s way under the prevailing wage of Illinois.”

The strike was taking place on the same day the Chicago hotel workers’ union, Unite Here 1, reached an agreement with most of the hotels involved in its contract dispute. In a statement, Unite Here Local One’s president, Karen Kent, reported that “Hilton, Marriott, and six other hotels have reached new agreements and brought the strikes to an end.” Ten Two hotels in the Hyatt chain remain on strike, the Hyatt Regency Chicago and Hyatt Regency McCormick Place.

The painters and the hotel works have been able to harness support from each other to keep their separate fights alive. Hernandez says he was recently protesting across the street from one of the hotel-strike picket lines.

“It just made me feel great that people are standing up fighting for working-class people to receive better than what they’re getting now.”

District 14, which represents painters, tapers, and drywall finishers, is hoping its efforts will be as fruitful as the hotel unions have been in their struggle for quality working conditions.

For now, says Hernandez, “I tried to reach out to the management company here a couple of times, and they said they’re going to keep doing what they’re doing.”

This blog post has been emended to correctly reflect the number of Hyatt hotels that remain on strike, which owing to an editor’s error was given as ten. It is in fact two; Park Hyatt Chicago union employees have authorized a strike but are still on the job.