Chicago IL May 26 2017 Navy Pier sued Teamsters Local 727 on Wednesday, with the popular tourist attraction saying it's concerned about unruly, access-blocking protests heading into the Memorial Day weekend.
Navy Pier, which says it attracts as many as 85,000 visitors a day, says in its lawsuit that for the past week, union members have "been standing in the street, physically blocking delivery trucks, buses and other vehicles that seek access to the Pier under the guise of a 'labor dispute' with a contractor that provides security services."
Security guards at Navy Pier on May 18 began protesting plans by new security contractor Allied Universal to replace them. The union, 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 their wage.
Local 727 members have gone as far as standing in the street, "in front of the truck, forcing it to stop," according to the lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court. "They then surround the cab and harangue and coerce the driver in an attempt to stop the driver from coming into Navy Pier."
Teamsters also park their personal vehicles in crosswalks, blocking traffic, the suit says.
Navy Pier wants the court to immediately 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, among other things.
The pier says in the suit that it's "not seeking to stop Local 727 from engaging in peaceful, lawful picketing" but rather "from physically blocking the streets leading into Navy Pier with their persons, their vehicles, or any other objects."
Navy Pier's lawsuit says it has called the Chicago Police Department, but union members "have persisted in impeding access," including "preventing the delivery of necessary supplies such as food and beverages" to the pier's 80 attractions, theaters, vendors, restaurants and bars.
Teamsters Local 727 couldn't be reached late Wednesday for comment.
The union wants Allied to retain Navy Pier's current security workforce and recognize the five-year contract it negotiated in June with previous contractor SMG, which had provided security at the pier since 2011.
Angela Burrell, public relations manager for Allied, said last week that the company is still setting up its staffing at Navy Pier and "any statement regarding the representation of those employees would be premature."