Security guards on Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier agreed to a set of restrictions as they continue to protest plans by a new security contractor to replace them with cheaper labor.
Teamsters Local 727, which represents 43 security, fire and safety officers that work on Navy Pier, filed an unfair labor practice charge against Navy Pier’s management company May 11 and went on strike May 18. The union said that Navy Pier, Inc. (NPI) intimidated the union in its efforts to protect the jobs of its members.
Allied Universal, which took over from a previous contractor in mid-May, refused to recognize the union’s collective bargaining agreement, according to Local 727. “We are astonished at how mean-spirited NPI is toward the Pier’s dedicated public safety employees,” said John Coli Jr., president of Local 727. “After all, people’s livelihoods are at stake here and NPI’s executives refuse to recognize that by hiring another security vendor in the hopes that it won’t honor the current collective bargaining agreement.”
Local 727 is concerned that Allied wants to bring in workers at $13 an hour through Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, according to the Chicago Tribune. The Teamsters said it was ironic that the SEIU is leading the fight for $15, but is being used by Allied to lower wages for security guards at the pier.
Local 727 says that Allied plans to cut wages up to 30 percent and eliminate pensions and other benefits, including healthcare for security guards that join the new contracting company. The strike continued into Memorial Day weekend, even after Navy Pier sued the union over its protesting tactics.
Navy Pier, which is expected to attract 250,000 people over Memorial Day weekend, is experiencing union members who have “been standing in the street, physically blocking delivery trucks, buses and other vehicles that seek access to the Pier under the guise of a ‘labor dispute’ with a contractor that provides security services,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
The protesters finally agreed to refrain from blocking the streets and other restrictions, and a hearing on Navy Pier’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit is slated for June 8.
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