FOX 32: Hands Off Pants On looks to curb sexual harassment in Chicago’s hospitality industry

Karent Kent, Unite Here Local 1 President, joins the set to talk about the new initiative to wipe out workplace harassment and assault in Chicago's hospitality industry.

Univision National: Con un botón de pánico buscan enfrentar el acoso sexual en hoteles de Chicago

Por ley, los hoteles de la ciudad deben proveer el dispositivo electrónico a trabajadores en el área de limpieza desde el primero de julio. El empleado puede dejar de trabajar y abandonar la zona donde ocurrió el hecho después de activar el botón.

Chicago Sun-Times: Hotel workers ‘claim our space’ as panic button ordinance takes effect

Celebrating what they called a “cultural shift” for women workers’ rights, union activists and city officials gathered Sunday to ring in Chicago’s implementation of an ordinance requiring hotels to provide panic buttons for employees to report harassment.

Office of the Mayor, Press Room: Chicago Hotels Required To Provide Panic Buttons To Protect Workers From Sexual Harassment Or Assault

“Everyone who works in Chicago deserves safe, secure and empowering professional environments in which to do their jobs,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Those who have been willing to speak out about their experiences, and the countless others who have suffered in silence, deserve not just our respect, but our sustained efforts to prevent, prohibit and punish harassment whenever and wherever it occurs. This ordinance makes it clear that sexual harassment is not just inexcusable and inappropriate, it is illegal.”

FOX 32: Chicago hotel workers now equipped with ‘Panic Buttons’

Thousands of hotel workers have a new way to protect themselves as a new city ordinance takes effect. Alderman Michelle Harris joined local union leaders and hotel workers on Sunday to celebrate the ordinance known as “Hands Off - Pants On.” The ordinance requires all hotels in the city to provide panic buttons for housekeeping staff.

Chicago Sun-Times: Karen Kent Op-Ed: ‘Panic button’ ordinance for hotel workers sends a strong #MeToo message

On July 1, 2018, the landmark “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance goes into full effect, requiring Chicago hotels to provide panic buttons to all hotel workers who clean, restock, or take inventory alone in guest rooms and rest rooms. It was the women hospitality workers of UNITE HERE Local 1 who came together, spoke out, and with the support of the Chicago Federation of Labor, won this innovative policy to help address a long-standing problem.

WTTW: Chicago Tonight: Starting July 1, Chicago Hotels Will Need to Have Panic Buttons

Chicago will become the second city in the country requiring hotels to implement panic buttons on July 1. Seattle was the first city to make such requirements. The ordinance, called “Hands Off, Pants On,” was passed unanimously in October 2017 by the Chicago City Council. It’s aimed at protecting housekeepers from sexual assault.

NYTimes: Spurred by #MeToo, a Harassment Task Force Reconvenes

" 'He was blocking her path to the door, so she had to barrel and run into him and jump over the bed just to get out of the room,' said Ms. Nalls, a casino cocktail server and a member of Unite Here Local 1, a hospitality workers’ union in Chicago and northwest Indiana. Ms. Nalls was one of several legal experts, entrepreneurs, nonprofit workers and labor advocates who spoke Monday at a meeting held in Washington by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission."

AFL-CIO/By Our Hands: This Is What Happens When Hotel Housekeepers Say, ‘Hands Off! Pants On!’

" 'I knew after her passing that I couldn’t stop fighting and organizing my hotel. So that’s what I did,”'Latonia said. She turned grief into action and became a leader in the fight to stop sexual harassment. The campaign required dogged determination, and it was a fight for dignity. "

The Atlantic’s City Lab: The Local Fight to End Sexual Assault in Low-Wage Jobs

"In Chicago, using UNITE HERE’s report as a launchpad, the Chicago Federation of Labor spearheaded legislation asking employers to put in greater protections. The city passed a law in October that, among other things, mandates employers provide a panic button that hotel workers can use to call hotel security if they feel unsafe."

NYTimes: For Hotel Workers, Weinstein Allegations Put a Spotlight on Harassment

"A union survey of hotel workers in Chicago found that 58 percent of them had been sexually harassed by a guest."

Press Release: UNITE HERE Celebrates Our Union Members Being Named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year

"Today UNITE HERE celebrates TIME Magazine naming our union hotel housekeepers who stood up to sexual harassment from guests as their 2017 Person of the Year, in their Silence Breakers issue on stands Friday. Our Person of the Year recognition specifically features UNITE HERE hotel workers Juana of UNITE HERE Local 11 and Esthela of UNITE HERE Local 1, who both spoke out about sexual harassment they experienced at work in 2017 and then went on to run union campaigns in their own cities to reform the harassment epidemic in the hospitality industry. "

The Nation: Stopping Sexual Abuse on the Job Begins With Empowering Workers

"Chicago hotel housekeepers will report to work with a new piece of gear in the coming months: not buckets and gloves, but a small electronic alarm, which they can sound if they encounter the occupational hazard that’s haunted them silently for years: a sexual attack. The “panic button” fits in a housekeeper’s palm, but it’s the product of a massive public campaignled by the hotel workers union, UNITE HERE, for a local law to provide the devices as part of standard safety gear. More than an emergency technology, it’s a symbol of solidarity and recognition amid a culture of fear and silence. But the button just marks a start of a global conversation on redressing and preventing gender-based violence at work."

TIME Person of the Year 2017: The Silence Breakers

"The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe. They might labor in California fields, or behind the front desk at New York City's regal Plaza Hotel, or in the European Parliament. They're part of a movement that has no formal name. But now they have a voice. ... State and local governments have also taken some concrete steps. In October, the Chicago city council passed an ordinance­ requiring hotels to provide panic buttons to employees who work alone in hotel rooms. "

Univision, Al Punto con Jorge Ramos: Hispanas trabajadoras de hotel cuentan sus historias de acoso sexual

"Cecilia y Nuris fueron acosadas sexualmente mientras trabajaban en un hotel limpiando cuartos. Hablan de lo que les sucedió y el temor de denunciar lo ocurrido."

Washington Post, Opinions: The sexual harassment conversation needs to move to the next level

"Yet, as journalist Barbara Ehrenreich has noted, “our current sex harassment discussion is woefully class-skewed. Too much about actresses and not enough about hotel housekeepers.” Sexual harassment is grounded in an imbalance of power, the heady sense that one can commit wrongful acts with impunity. Not surprisingly, it is most prevalent where the power imbalance is the most extreme. Ehrenreich cites Chicago’s Unite Here Local 1, the hospitality union, which found that nearly 60 percent of hotel workers in the greater Chicago area reported being sexually harassed on the job. Too often the male guests feel free to get “handsy” or to appear with no clothes on."

NPR Weekend Edition: Hospitality Workers And Sexual Harassment

"NPR's Scott Simon talks with Karen Kent, president of the Chicago chapter of the hospitality workers union Unite Here, about their efforts to protect hotel employees against sexual harassment."

Huffington Post: ‘He Was Masturbating… I Felt Like Crying’: What Housekeepers Endure To Clean Hotel Rooms

The housekeepers wore “No Harveys in Chicago” T-shirts to mark the ordinance’s passage. Among those celebrating was Cecilia, who had spent months rallying her colleagues around the cause. She hopes the new panic buttons will bring a sense of safety to workers like the young housekeeper she helped not even two months ago. “It’s more security, and more support,” Cecilia said. “Trust me. You shouldn’t be scared to work.”

Fox 32: Chicago hotel workers will have access to panic buttons under new ordinance

Interview with Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor "Chicago hotel employees are taking a stand against sexual harassment and indecent exposures by guests. A new law has passed to better protect staff including giving them access to panic buttons."

CBS Chicago: Hotel Workers Union Celebrates Anti-Harassment Ordinance

"As more allegations of powerful men sexually abusing and harassing women come out, the union representing thousands of Chicago hotel workers is celebrating a new ordinance it says will protect them."

Chicago Tribune: Chicago moves to make hotels ‘No Harvey’ zones for housekeepers

" “This all started with women who are hotel workers being brave enough to share their stories and stand up and fight,” Valencia said. “They inspire me.” Several of those hotel workers, along with Valencia, Harris and Karen Kent, Unite Here Local 1 president, cheered the ordinance Tuesday. They wore T-shirts emblazoned with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s mug with a red line through it and dined on a cake bearing the same image. “We’re calling them ‘No Harvey hotels’ because people need to know when they walk in, harassment is not going to be tolerated,” Valencia said. "

Slate: Barbara Ehrenreich: Worker Abuse Is Rampant, and Sexual Harassment Is Just the Start

"But I was also thinking about the numbers found by the hotel housekeepers union in Chicago, Unite Here. They found a shocking number, almost 60 percent of hotel housekeepers, reports being sexually harassed on the job. They go up to somebody’s room and there’s no one else there, and some guy tries something or is there with no clothes on while they try to do their jobs. This is routine."

Chicago SunTimes: Double-whammy of mandates on Chicago hotels ; one whammy on hold

"The first of the measures approved by the City Council Wednesday follows an emotional appeal from hotel workers who claim to have been sexually harassed. It requires hotels to provide employees working alone with portable panic buttons — akin to a Medic-Alert worn by senior citizens — that would alert hotel security. Instead of connecting the panic button to 911 and summoning overburdened police officers, Harris said she decided to trust hotel security. The ordinance championed by Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) at the behest of Unite Here Local 1 would also require hotels to “develop, maintain and comply with a written, anti-sexual harassment policy.” "

CBS Chicago: New Ordinance Could Protect Hotel Workers From Sexual Harassment, Assault

"The Chicago City Council Committee on Workforce Development has given preliminary approval to a measure aimed at protecting hotel workers from sexual harassment and sexual assault. Alderman Michelle Harris spearheaded the measure that arose from hotel worker complaints about guests who flashed them or worse."

Chicago SunTimes: Aldermen approve proposal to protect sexually harassed hotel staff

"Those are not just statistics to Cecilia, a 28-year veteran mini-bar attendant at a Chicago hotel who works alone in guest rooms. “One day I knocked on the door of a guest room. The man inside answered, `You can come in.’ The man was sitting at his desk in front of a computer. I heard the sounds of the computer. I looked over and realized he was watching porn and masturbating,” Cecilia, who refused to give her last name, said through an interpreter. “I was so horrified and afraid. I ran from the room. The experience left me feeling dirty and without dignity. And since that experience, I felt scared about what could happen every time I open the door to a guest room. Having a panic button would make me feel safer. To know I could easily call for help if something happens would be such a relief.” "

Chicago Tribune: Chicago hotels would have to give workers ‘panic buttons’ under plan aldermen advance

"Ald. Edward Burke, 14th, underscored the imbalance hotel workers face. “Who does the hotel manager believe if a complaint is filed, the powerless employee or the executive paying hundreds of dollars in room charges with a corporate platinum American Express card?” Burke asked. “Without safeguards in place, it’s the employee who’s exposed and vulnerable to the abuser and even, at times, the hotel management.” "

Open Democracy: “Hands Off Pants On”: time to end gender-based abuse in the hotel industry

"Hotel housekeepers, bartenders, waitresses and cocktail servers – the majority of whom are women of color and immigrants – form the backbone of Chicago’s booming hospitality and tourism industry. Now these women are speaking out about their experiences of widespread and disturbing sexual harassment from guests. And they are calling for an end to the abuse. "

Crain’s Chicago: Sexual harassment and the protection gap for Chicago’s low-wage workers (Op-Ed by Sheerine Alemzadeh, co-founder of Healing to Action)

"Law enforcement agencies have been less than clear with guidance around third-party harassment by customers and guests, making protections tenuous for employees in the rapidly growing service economy. Local groups are working to shore up existing protections for the most vulnerable workers. In Chicago, Unite Here Local 1 is pushing an ordinance to strengthen hotels' responses to guest harassment."

Washington Post: A millionaire, a hotel maid and an arrest after the inauguration for sex abuse

"In November, voters in Seattle approved a measure providing hotel workers with panic buttons and other protections. And in Chicago, the city council is considering a measure that would require panic buttons. “These women deal with a constant fear when they work by themselves,” said Alderman Michelle Harris, the ordinance’s sponsor. “Will they be next?” "

Circa News: Hotels in Chicago have a sexual harassment problem. A button could be the solution.

"[This is] fabulous," Leiva said about the proposed ordinance. "If I work, it's because of my kids. This is something that benefits us, our kids and those coming after us."

Univision: Presentarán en Chicago ordenanza para proteger a empleados de hoteles contra agresiones sexuales por parte de clientes

"Una propuesta de la iniciativa de la concejal Michelle Harris es poner botones de pánico en los cuartos para que las camareras se comuniquen con agentes de seguridad."

DNA Info: Panic Buttons Could Protect Hotel Workers From Assault, Ald. Harris Says

"A proposed law would require Chicago hotels to give their workers a panic button in an effort to protect them from being sexually assaulted or harassed by guests. Introduced by 8th Ward Ald. Michelle Harris (8th), the measure has the support of the Chicago Federation of Labor, whose representatives said at a City Hall news conference Tuesday that they frequently receive complaints from hotel workers who say they have been forced to endure sexual misconduct at work."

CBS Chicago: Ordinance Aims To Protect Female Hotel Employees From Sexual Harassment

"Ald. Michelle Harris is sponsoring an ordinance that would require hotels to have anti-sexual harassment and assault policies and give female housekeepers working solo a panic button that summons help. A woman named Estella, a housekeeper in a downtown hotel, said she has had male guests sexually expose themselves to her twice in the last three months."

SunTimes: Hotels urged to combat sexual harassment against female employees

"A veteran hotel housekeeper on Tuesday told a harrowing story of sexual harassment on the job to make the case for mandatory safety measures to protect hotel workers and end what advocates call the “sisterhood of silence.”

Abc7: Panic button ordinance proposed to protect Chicago hotel workers

"The workers who spoke to ABC 7 hope a proposed Chicago ordinance that is being introduced Wednesday will allow for some type of panic button to get help quickly if need be. "We need something. Something else. Something fast," Esthela said."


"In Chicago, Nalls would like to see repeat harassers barred from casinos, which are known for banning people accused of cheating at the gaming tables. If a guest “stole from the casino, they wouldn’t let him come back,” Nalls said. “So, if he steals my dignity, why should he be allowed to come back?” "

Univision Chicago: Trabajando en el infierno- las dificultades de ser un trabajador inmigrante

"En la cuarta entrega de este reportaje especial, Adriana Cardona entrevista a tres hispanas que han sido víctimas de acoso sexual en su trabajo y que ahora luchan para proteger a otras mujeres."

Ms. Magazine: UNITE HERE Takes On Sexual Harassment in Chicago’s Hospitality Industry

"When UNITE HERE Local 1 in Chicago heard the story of a young server being sexually harassed by a male guest while working at a local casino, the labor union took action. Local 1 conducted a survey of nearly 500 women working as housekeepers, bartenders and servers within the state’s hospitality industry—then compiled and analyzed their findings and laid out policy recommendations in a new report entitled “Hands Off Pants On.” "

Progress Illinois: Survey: Female Chicagoland Hospitality Workers ‘Face A High Level Of Sexual Harassment’

"The survey findings suggest that sexual harassment by casino and hotel guests often goes unreported, with just 33 percent of hospitality workers saying that they reported such incidents to their supervisor or manager."

NPR: Union Publicizes Sexual Harassment In Chicago’s Hospitality Industry

"A survey of hundreds of women working in hotels and casinos indicates widespread instances of assault by male guests. A union is pushing for legislation targeting sexual harassment on the job."

NPR: Workplace Sexual Harassment: A Threat To Victims, A Quandary For Bystanders

"'Forty-nine percent of the housekeepers we surveyed said a guest had exposed themselves, flashed them or answered the door naked,' says researcher Sarah Lyons. Kasey Nalls, a cocktail waitress at a casino for 11 years, puts it plainly. 'I always thought it was a serious issue,' Nalls says. 'I feel like we're walking prey.'"


"Kasey Nalls was 23 when she started her first casino job in northwest Indiana, clad in a tight blue velveteen uniform, serving drinks as a cocktail waitress. During her first shift, Nalls said a male patron approached and said: “I’ve got the cock, you’ve got the tail.” According to a new study conducted by Chicago’s Unite Here Local 1, Nalls’ experience is common. After surveying nearly 500 female hospitality workers at dozens of hotels and casinos in the Chicago area, the study found 77 percent of female casino workers surveyed had been sexually harassed by a guest. Additionally, 58 percent of female hotel workers reported sexual harassment from patrons."

WBEZ News: New Survey Points To Sexual Harassment Rampant In Casinos And Hotels

"A study called "Hands Off Pants On' is detailing the sexual harassment of local hotel and casino workers. About 500 women surveyed say 58% of hotel workers and 77% of casino workers have been sexually harassed by male guests. For housekeepers, more than 45% of them surveyed say a guest is naked, exposes or flashes a female housekeeper when they answer the door. Those workers want panic buttons in the event that they are cornered or feel threatened by a guest. Casino workers say they'd like harassers banned from the premises."

CBS Chicago: Chicago-Area Sexual Harassment Survey Reveals Disturbing Numbers

"While the panel was assembled months ago, the topic is timely as sexual harassment and so-called “locker room” talk has made headlines recently. The “Hands Off, Pants On” panel also debuted a new video called “Union Men React to Workplace Harassment and Assault” which shows men reading women’s stories of sexual harassment. The panel was lead by Justice Anne M. Burke. Sports anchor Julie DiCaro of sister station, 670 The Score, spoke about her experience of online harassment and how a YouTube video #MoreThanMean made a difference."

Chicago SunTimes: Sneed– “Hotel hell . . . “

"Watch for a panel discussion titled “Hands Off Pants On: Sexual Harassment in Chicago’s Hospitality Industry,” to be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at UNITE HERE Local 1, located at 218 S. Wabash St., which represents 15,000 hospitality workers in Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Moderated by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, the panel will include sports columnist Julie DiCaro, who participated in the award-winning #MoreThanMean video; Chicago journalist Robin Robinson and Jorge Ramirez, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor."

Reveal News: Why cleaning a hotel room makes you a target for sexual harassment

"And this month, UNITE HERE Local 1, a union that represents hotel workers, will issue a report about the state of sexual harassment in the industry. According to its survey of nearly 500 Illinois hospitality industry workers, 58 percent of hotel employees and 77 percent of casino workers said they’d been sexually harassed. Forty-nine percent of housekeepers said that a guest had opened the door naked, exposed themselves or flashed them."