A majority of Americans now say unions are bad for the nation, according to Gallup polls. And the loss of two big trade shows at McCormick Place, for which the expense of union help was blamed, is bound to provoke more grumbling about organized labor in Chicago, traditionally one of the most loyal of union towns.
At the office building construction site at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, the talk among union workers the other day was tinged with bitterness. Many of the workers said they think they get a bad rap.
But at Gage, a fashionable cafe just a block from the pounding hammers and buzzing saws, Steve Thompson, a cyber-executive, said he considered $40-an-hour pay ??unreasonable?? for the crowd in steel-toe boots, ??given their education and training.??
To workers in the trades, that kind of talk is as familiar as the freezing wind that slaps their faces on outdoor job sites, sometimes while working on a six-inch wide steel beam on the 75th floor.
Union Carpenters were given a public pat on the back last week for work they're doing with area residents to winterize their homes. A woman who was the recipient of the good will effort wrote to the Portland Press Herald to give an enthusiastic thanks.
The Worcester Crowne Plaza, which ran into some trouble (here and here) recently over construction issues at their hotel, has been taken into receivership. The Worcester Telegram-Gazette reports the owner defaulted on a $16.3 million mortgage.
"A receiver has taken control of the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Lincoln Square weeks after the hotel??s owner, Lodgian Inc., defaulted on $16.3 million in mortgage debt, according to a filing yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Lodgian, based in Atlanta, reported that David Buddemeyer of Driftwood Hospitality Management LLC took possession of the hotel Nov. 19. Mr. Buddemeyer is now ??holding, operating, managing and maintaining?? the property on behalf of Wells Fargo Bank, a trustee for holders of certain Wachovia Bank Commercial Mortgage Trust certificates, Lodgian reported.
Mr. Buddemeyer was appointed receiver in a Nov. 20 order by Judge F. Dennis Saylor in U.S. District Court in Worcester, according to court filings."
"The Worcester Telegram-Gazette reported in June that the hotel would face a financial backlash as a result of it's construction decisions.
As a result of the controversy, three unions have pulled their conferences from the Crowne Plaza, and one prominent local politician said he??ll try to block the statewide Democratic convention from using the hotel.
The New England Regional Council of Carpenters, of which Local 107 is a member, has pulled the apprenticeship conference scheduled for October. The conference, which draws 500 people over three days, has been held at the Crowne Plaza for a decade. Its organizers are looking for another venue in Worcester for the event, according to Mr. Thompson.
The AFL-CIO of Massachusetts had scheduled its statewide conference at the Crowne Plaza in September, according to Joseph P. Carlson, president of the AFL-CIO of Central Massachusetts.
The AFL-CIO conference, which will draw 300 to 350 attendees over three days, will now be held at the Newton Marriott. Mr. Carlson said that in addition to losing conference fees and meals for all the attendees over three days, the hotel will probably lose 1,000 to 1,200 hotel room stays as well.
??It??s foolishness that the Crowne Plaza couldn??t find local people to do this work,?? Mr. Carlson said. ??We??re showing our displeasure by taking our dollars somewhere else.?? Mr. Carlson, who lives in Worcester, said it was a ??real shame?? that the city lost the conference.
The Massachusetts Nursing Association had scheduled to run several training programs at the hotel in September, but has moved them to another hotel in Worcester. In addition, the union is moving its 2010 statewide convention from the Crowne Plaza to another Worcester hotel. That three-day conference usually draws 300 to 350 people from around the state.
??We can??t utilize that facility when it is not supporting our fellow worker members,?? said Lynne Starbard, president of the MNA??s Central Massachusetts branch.
The Crowne Plaza would have been one of three or four likely hosts for the Democratic state convention to be held in Worcester next June.
Worcester County Sheriff Guy W. Glodis said he will attempt to convince Democrats not to use the Crowne Plaza for the convention. He said he will pledge not to hold any fundraisers or functions at the hotel ??until this issue is resolved.??
??It just doesn??t make any sense, and it sends the wrong message,?? he said. ??It??s not a union-nonunion issue. It??s an issue of workers, of local people looking for work.??