Hilton Chicago: Historic Hotel, Union Heritage

The IAM hosts its 39th Grand Lodge Convention this week at the Chicago Hilton. The union-represented hotel was also the site of the union’s 1968 convention.
The IAM hosts its 39th Grand Lodge Convention this week at the Chicago Hilton. The union-represented hotel was also the site of the union’s 1968 convention.

As the IAM conducts its 39th Grand Lodge Convention this week in Chicago, delegates are deciding the direction of the union’s future in a setting steeped in history.

UNITE HERE Local 1 Food Server Daniel J. Tus has worked at the Hilton Chicago since 1979.
UNITE HERE Local 1 Food Server Daniel J. Tus has worked at the Hilton Chicago since 1979.

The Hilton Chicago originally opened in 1927 as the Stevens Hotel. At the time, it was the largest hotel in the world and cost $30 million to build.  It boasted 3,000 rooms, a rooftop miniature golf course, a two-ward hospital and a 1,200-seat theater with equipment for talking motion pictures.

Over the last 89 years, the hotel has seen good times and bad. It has housed some of the world’s most elite guests and American soldiers. When World War II broke out, the U.S. army purchased the depression-ravaged hotel and converted it into classrooms and barracks for the Army Air Force Technical Training School. In 1943 it was purchased and renovated by Conrad Hilton and has been a Hilton property ever since.

The hotel also carries an historic labor tradition. In 1968, the IAM held its 27th Grand Lodge Convention at the Hilton, where over 2,000 delegates celebrated the union’s 80th anniversary.

Today, the IAM has once again chosen the Hilton Chicago, with its more than 1,000 UNITE HERE Local 1 union workers, to host the 2016 convention. During your stay, please remember to thank and tip your:

  • Doormen
  • Bellmen
  • Banquet Setup Workers, Servers and Captains
  • Housekeeping Room Attendants and Housemen
  • Lobby Attendants
  • Restaurant staff and Servers
  • Bartenders and Bar backs
  • Room service staff
  • Cooks and Dishwashers

Organized labor is alive and well in the Windy City.