It pays to contribute big to a candidate’s political campaign fund, and Penny Pritzker learned this when President Obama chose her as his candidate for commerce secretary. Pritzker gave $250,000 personally to the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Pritzker’s family founded the Hyatt Hotel chain and is one of the richest women in the country. Although being rich shouldn’t disqualify you from political office, avoiding paying taxes by hiding assets in international tax havens does. And that’s only the beginning of her problems.
Donald Taylor, president of Unite Here, a 270,000-member union of hotel and restaurant workers who are employed by the Hyatt Hotels, spoke out today opposing her nomination, and members in Chicago took to the streets in protest.
Hyatt workers in Chicago have also endured a four-year wage freeze, stalled contract negotiations, and no resolve to safer working conditions.
“Under Pritzker’s direction, Hyatt has led the hotel industry in a race to the bottom by aggressively subcontracting out career hotel jobs to minimum wage temps. This is not the model that will lead our country to a bright economic future” says Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt housekeeper who has led a national campaign to elect a hotel worker to Hyatt’s Board of Directors.
The irony in all of this is that the Department of Commerce’s mission statement is:
“The U.S. Department of Commerce promotes job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers…”