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Latest News - May 2013

May 23, 2013
Hyatt Workers Oppose Pritzker's Cabinet Nomination At Senate Hearing
Source: Progress Illinois

Hyatt workers and UNITE HERE President D. Taylor attended a Senate confirmation hearing today and voiced their disapproval of Penny Pritzker's nomination as U.S. Secretary of Commerce.

The hotel workers say Pritzker is not right for the job, citing a record of labor abuses and job outsourcing at the hands of the Hyatt company. Pritzker is a billionaire Hyatt heiress and longtime board member for the company.

Hyatt has come under fire over the company's opposition to higher wage standards and its practice of replacing longtime housekeepers with minimum wage temps. The workers also say the Hyatt has lobbied against safer working conditions for hotel housekeepers.

According to UNITE HERE, some Hyatt housekeepers clean as many as 30 rooms a day, but get paid as little as $2 per room.

UNITE HERE represents more than 270,000 workers across North America in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, laundry and airport industries.

“Under Ms. Pritzker's leadership, Hyatt has exhibited a broad pattern of labor abuses, including aggressive outsourcing, low wages and the mistreatment of housekeepers,” Taylor said in a statement. “In order to get our nation on the road to recovery, the Commerce Department needs leadership far different from what Ms. Pritzker has demonstrated at Hyatt Hotels.”

The hotel workers have been locked in a lengthy battle with Hyatt, resulting in numerous strikes nationwide and a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels.

On Monday, more than 500 Hyatt workers rallied at the Hyatt McCormick Place in Chicago against Pritzker’s nomination.

Read Progress Illinois report on the Hyatt workers' recent demonstration against the Pritzker nomination here.

“The commerce secretary’s first concern should be to create good, family sustaining jobs for all Americans,” added Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt housekeeper who has led a national campaign to elect a hotel worker to Hyatt’s Board of Directors. “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.”

Despite the opposition to Pritzker's nomination, it appears as though she will be confirmed, according to a Chicago Tribune report. U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) did, however, question the nominee on the failure of Superior Bank, for which she chaired the board. Pritzker said she "felt very badly" about the bank's failure, when asked about the people who lost thousands of dollars as a result of the bank's closing. Thune said he had additional questions for Pritzker that would be asked and responded to in writing.

The committee is expected to vote on Pritzker's nomination next month.




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