The United Center’s food service and sanitation workers filed dozens of labor complaints against the venue’s concessionaire on Tuesday, alleging the company violated labor law by working some employees 35 days straight.
A dozen workers from Levy Restaurants, a Compass Group subsidiary, and Unite Here Local 1 members protested outside United Center, holding signs that read “Levy stop breaking the law” and “over worked and underpaid.”
Levy was accused of 24 different things in total. Workers filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, the Illinois Department of Labor, and the Office of Labor Standards of the City of Chicago.
Among the allegations are that Levy violated the state’s “One Day Rest in Seven Act,” which requires one 24-hour period off per week.
One of the workers who claims to be overworked is Jesus Flores, a dishwasher at the United Center. He stated that he would like to spend more time at home with his 16-year-old daughter, but that the company is preventing him from doing so.
“A lot of us have experienced depression and stress,” Flores, who has worked at the venue for 20 years, said. “I’d like to spend some time with my family. We are not machines; we are human beings, and not machines. Compass Levy must follow the law.”
Flores went on to say that he wanted to work to support his family, but he wanted more control over his schedule.
After informing their manager of their rights, the dishwashers were given a day off, only to be scheduled for another 10 days straight, according to a statement from Unite HERE Local 1. Other employees claimed that the company changed their schedules without giving them adequate notice.
One employee had scheduled a doctor’s appointment on his day off, Nov. 15, but was informed the day before that his day off had been changed to Nov. 17. According to the complaint, the employee ended up taking a personal day to attend the appointment.
The company also failed to post legally required notices informing workers of their legal rights, according to the union, and began illegally monitoring them when they spoke out against the working conditions.
“They’re also fighting to get more people hired because otherwise they’re left with a lot more work,” said Cecilia Macias, a kitchen worker at the United Center. “They are overworked and do not have a day off. This could result in an accident.”
Workers also filed complaints alleging that the company was changing policies regarding uniforms, assigned duties, lunch breaks, and time off requests without giving the union a chance to bargain.
Tawanda Murray, a Levy attendant at United Center, said in a statement provided by the union: “I’ve dedicated the last 28 years of my life to serving Bulls and Blackhawks fans. I’m proud of the work we do at the United Center, but Levy’s abusive, illegal behavior must stop.”
The company said in a statement that it values its employees and respects their right to peacefully protest.
“We take allegations like these very seriously and will immediately look into these claims,” the company said. “The well-being of our team members and continued compliance with the law are our top priorities.”
Flores and Macias both stated that they would like to be compensated more for their efforts.
“Everything has to change, it’s just not right,” Flores stated.
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