Monday was supposed to be a day to celebrate the workforce. Instead dozens of labor leaders and employees at the Kinzie Hotel in Chicago’s River North neighborhood spent the morning protesting.

The protest happened three days after hotel management told 12 employees they could no longer come to work. The employees, part of the Unite Here Local 1 union for hospitality workers in Chicago, picketed outside the hotel on Friday due to an expired contract.

Jose Sanchez, one of those employees, has worked at the Kinzie Hotel for 16 years.

“This is my second house. My second home,” Sanchez told NBC Chicago.

Sanchez chose to picket on Friday, his day off, because their contract expired in August, and he said Kinzie Hotel still had not settled a new one by Sept. 1.

He said the workers were not on strike and instead only wanted to demonstrate and then go back to work. When he arrived for his shift the next day, he said a supervisor turned him away.

“The supervisor said, ‘well, Jose, you have to leave.’ I was like ‘what?’”

Sanchez received a letter from Kinzie Hotel’s General Manager Karen Criss, saying in part, “We are exercising our right under the NLRA to hire a replacement worker in order to continue operations. You have an opportunity to apply for reinstatement after the strike. There is no guarantee your positions will be available.”

Sanchez said he never planned to strike. He and the union believe the 12 workers were unfairly kicked to the curb out of retaliation for picketing. Now they’re demanding the hotel give them their jobs back.

Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Federation of Labor, said the hotel management’s actions are illegal.

“This is the home of Labor Day,” he said. “We will stand in solidarity with those 12 workers.”

NBC Chicago reached out to Criss for comment.

“The Kinzie Hotel agreed to each and every term proposed by the Union before the agreement expired, including the increased compensation that matches all of the other hotels,” she said in a statement. “We value all of our employees and are happy to reiterate that increased compensation has in fact been agreed upon. The Union proposed a meeting next week to discuss what we see as very minor other changes to the agreement, which we hope to resolve at that time.”

Union representatives told news outlets the hotel did agree to portions of the contract but wanted to make changes. They have a meeting scheduled for the following weeks to settle the contract.

Thirty-one area hotels have already agreed and settled their contracts.

NBC Chicago asked Criss if the 12 employees would be allowed to return to work but have not received a response.