Union protests Obama’s nomination of Pritzker

WASHINGTON – Saying Hyatt Hotel magnate Penny Pritzker destroys jobs, more than 30 Unite Here members – led by union President D Taylor – crowded into the back of a Senate hearing room on May 23 to show the union opposes her nomination as U.S. Commerce Secretary. Senators ignored them and gave Pritzker, a multimillionaire top fundraiser for President Obama, accolades.

Union spokeswoman Rachel Tardiff said senators asked Pritzker few questions about jobs. When one asked Pritzker whether she supports subcontracting out work, Pritzker replied, “no.” Hyatt has subcontracted many of its housekeepers’ jobs.

The union realizes Pritzker seems headed for approval, “but this appearance” in the hearing room “is just one step in a much longer struggle” with the hotel chain, Tardiff added. “This is more of a principled stance. We could not sit silently by knowing of the struggles of so many Hyatt workers” against Pritzker and the chain.

Pritzker has opposition from more than just the hospitality workers in her hometown of Chicago. The Chicago teachers Union is fighting her nomination because of the role she has played in the education struggles in that city.

The CTU calls Pritzker an avid supporter, while on the school board, of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s moves to slash middle-class teaching jobs, increase class sizes and close 54 schools.

“Under Pritzker’s leadership, Hyatt exhibited a broad pattern of labor abuses, including aggressive outsourcing, low wages and the mistreatment of housekeepers,” Taylor said before the Senate confirmation hearing. “To get our nation on the road to recovery, the Commerce Department needs leadership far different from what Pritzker demonstrated at Hyatt Hotels.”

Photo: UNITE HERE! Facebook page.



Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.