WASHINGTON (PAI) - Citing her Hyatt Hotel chain's illegal firings of hotel workers who are unionized with Unite Here, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Ind.-Vt., was the sole senator to oppose President Obama's nomination of multimillionaire executive Penny Pritzker to be U.S. Commerce Secretary. Pritzker won, 97-1.
Of the June 25 confirmation vote, Sanders said:
"We need a secretary of commerce who will represent the interests of working Americans and their families, not simply the interests of CEOs and large corporations. Ms. Pritzker served on the board of one of the most anti-worker hotel chains in this country. Workers at Hyatt have been unjustly fired for trying to form a union to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits. Unfortunately, Ms. Pritzker chose not to defend those employees."
Pritzker, a wealthy Chicago businesswoman, was national finance chair of the Obama campaign in 2008 and a national co-chair of the 2012 campaign.
Forbes Magazine lists Pritzker as the 263rd richest person in the U.S., with a net worth of $1.85 billion. The Pritzker family boasts assets of over $20 billion amassed mainly from ownership of the Hyatt Hotel chain.
Hyatt Hurts website says, "OSHA recently issued a companywide letter to Hyatt warning it of the hazards its housekeepers face on the job. This is a first for the hotel industry."
Hyatt fired housekeepers in its hotels in Boston and elsewhere, replacing them with out-of-state minimum-wage temps. Unite Here has called a boycott of Hyatt.
John Bachtell and Barbara Russum contributed to this story.
Photo: Hyatt Hurts Facebook page.