Teamsters Local 727, sued Wednesday over its ongoing protests at Navy Pier, agreed Friday not to block access to the popular Chicago tourist attraction and to get the word out to its picketers through its website, Twitter feed and other social media accounts.
Security guards at Navy Pier on May 18 began protesting plans by new security contractor Allied Universal to replace them. Local 727, which represents 43 security, fire and safety workers, says the company plans to replace its members, who make $24 an hour, with workers making a little more than half that wage.
Navy Pier, which said it expects 250,000 visitors this Memorial Day weekend, had asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Teamsters from blocking any part of Grand Avenue, Illinois Street or Streeter Drive and from parking any vehicles in no-parking zones in those areas. It also wanted no more than two picketers at any point along the streets leading to Navy Pier or at any entrance to the tourist attraction, according to the lawsuit.
At a hearing Friday, Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos said she was particularly concerned about an allegation that protesters boarded two tour buses and directed them to drive near a school bus area, where those vehicles weren't supposed to go.
"It's no secret that the entire world is concerned about safety at entertainment venues," Demacopoulos said.
As the proceeding wound down, she said it's important to keep Chicago safe yet still protect First Amendment rights. The order agreed to by both sides does that, she said.
"This dispute is among security personnel," she said. "Our children are learning from us."
Under the agreement, protesters can't block the streets in a manner that prevents access to Navy Pier. They can't park any vehicles in no-parking zones in those areas, unless directed by the Chicago Police Department. Picketers must remain on the perimeter of the streets or entrances. By 5 p.m. Friday, Teamsters Local 727 was to post a copy of the order on its website and social media accounts. The order made no mention of limiting the number of people at any given spot.Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune Members of Teamsters Local 727 and supporters protest against security contractor Allied Universal on May 26, 2017, outside of Navy Pier in Chicago. The union and the pier have agreed to a court order meant to ensure picketing does not block access to the popular attraction. Members of Teamsters Local 727 and supporters protest against security contractor Allied Universal on May 26, 2017, outside of Navy Pier in Chicago. The union and the pier have agreed to a court order meant to ensure picketing does not block access to the popular attraction. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)
A hearing on Navy Pier's motion for a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit is set for June 8.
Teamsters Local 727 has been protesting because it's concerned that Allied wants to bring in workers at $13 an hour through Service Employees International Union Local 1, part of the larger union behind the nationwide campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The Teamsters have said it's ironic that SEIU is fighting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour yet is "being used" by Allied to lower wages at the pier.
An Allied spokeswoman said last week that the company is still setting up its staffing at the pier and "any statement regarding the representation of those employees would be premature."
SEIU Local 1 declined to comment.
Local 727 wants Allied to keep the pier's current security workforce and recognize the five-year contract it negotiated in June with previous contractor SMG, which had provided security since 2011.
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