Yearlong Cambria hotel strike takes its toll on workers, and the owner’s bottom line

Twenty-eight employees at the Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile have been on strike for over a year. The Nigerian President’s former bodyguard is leading the group, organizers say.

TRD CHICAGO /
Sep.September 30, 2019 02:05 PM
Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile Hotel at 166 E. Superior Street (Credit: Google Maps and iStock)

Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile Hotel at 166 E. Superior Street (Credit: Google Maps and iStock)

A former presidential bodyguard is leading the holdouts in Chicago’s second-longest strike ever.

For over a year, Sam Yolo, a former bodyguard for the Nigerian president, along with 28 other hotel workers, have been on strike from the Cambria Chicago Magnificent Mile hotel, according to a report in the Chicago-Sun Times. Each day, they march outside the hotel on Superior Street for eight hours.

Yolo, who immigrated to Chicago from Nigeria in 1990 and has been working in hotels since, has a passion and commitment to the cause that has propelled him to become a leader of the group, one of the organizers, Vinay Ravi of UNITE HERE Local 1, told the outlet.

Their crowd used to be a lot bigger. In September of 2018, over 1,000 hotel workers banded together to demand higher pay and year-round health coverage. One-by-one, hotels across the city hotel workers went back to their jobs as their employers made the concessions they demanded.

But Cambria’s management group, led by Fillmore Capital Partners, had a condition — in exchange for meeting workers demands, they requested maids take on an extra two rooms per shift, increasing their cleaning load from 13 rooms to 15 rooms. So, as the strike crowd dwindled, the Cambria workers remained. The financial burden became too heavy for some who eventually went back to work, but 29 still stand outside seven days a week.

UNITE HERE claims Cambria’s owners, which includes the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, has lost $300,000 as a result of the strike.

Yolo told the Sun-Times that he is prepared to continue to strike, in solidarity with his colleagues, for as long as it takes.

The strike has been happening amid the backdrop of a crowded downtown hotel market. According to hoel data and analytics firm STR, revenue per available room (RevPar) was down to $228 in June, from $251 a year prior. Occupancy was also down slightly. [Sun-Times]Kelsey Neubauer


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
1035-1065 N Orleans St (Credit: Google Maps)

Developers place bets on another downtown hotel

226 West Jackson Boulevard; CEO John Mangel of Phoenix Development

Phoenix Development lands $91M construction loan for Hilton project

Pilsen affordable housing development slammed as gentrification play, South Side beachfront property marketed to multifamily developers: Daily digest

Pilsen affordable housing development slammed as gentrification play, South Side beachfront property marketed to multifamily developers: Daily digest

Base Capital Group and Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture’s plans for a 12-story hotel at 1043 West Fulton Market

The Hotel Hunger Games: Why some of Fulton Market’s projects may not survive

Salvation Army lists River West campus near megadevelopment site, new Fulton Market streetscape crumbling: Daily digest

Salvation Army lists River West campus near megadevelopment site, new Fulton Market streetscape crumbling: Daily digest

North Park Ventures Managing Partners Robert Sekula and Eric Turrin with Lake Street in Fulton Market (Credit: Google Maps)

North Park Ventures eyes 19-story hotel and office complex in Fulton Market

From left: F&F Realty President David Friedman, and FitzGerald Associates Chairman Pat FitzGerald with 920 West Lake Street (Credit: Google Maps)

New Fulton Market hotel will bring 200 keys to already hundreds of new, proposed rooms

Renderings of 300 North Michigan Avenue and Sterling Bay CEO Andy Gloor (Credit: bKL Architecture)

Chicago Cheat Sheet: Sterling Bay’s Michigan Avenue tower wins key OK…& more

arrow_forward_ios