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Hyatt Hotels workers union opposing Penny Pritzker nomination

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WASHINGTON--After first giving her a pass, the union representing Hyatt Hotel workers on Monday protested President Barack Obama's nomination of Penny Pritzker to be Commerce Secretary.

Pritzker's Senate confirmation hearing is Thursday morning. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a strong Pritzker backer, will be introducing Pritzker at her hearing. Pritzker, I'm told, is expecting Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), who has not committed to supporting her, to also be with her when she is introduced.

"It is a hard assignment to get approved in the Senate, when (Republicans) are determined to filibuster and slow down every appointment," Durbin said.

Pritzker's family founded the giant hotel chain and Pritzker sits on the board, a position she will relinquish if she is confirmed she said in financial disclosure papers filed last week.

After Obama tapped Pritzker, the union, UNITE HERE Local 1 issued a bland release not attacking Pritzker by name.

In a statement released on Monday, Cathy Youngblood, a Hyatt housekeeper who has led a national campaign to elect a hotel worker to Hyatt's Board of Directors said, "The Commerce Secretary's first concern should be to create good, family sustaining jobs for all Americans. 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."

When I wrote last week about organized labor giving Pritzker a pass,
I focused on UNITE HERE Local 1 because the union had been waging a battle with Hyatt for years.

What I wrote last week: "However, after Pritzker was nominated, Unite crafted a statement that went out of its way not to lay a glove on Pritzker, noting only that that the role of commerce secretary "requires a serious focus on the challenge of helping workers achieve full-time jobs with decent wages and safe working conditions."

"With Pritzker's presumed departure from the Hyatt Board, Unite devoted most of the statement to its drive to get a hotel worker on the board to take her place.

"Tamarin declined an interview through a Unite spokesman, who told me it was premature to comment before Pritzker's confirmation hearing. His son, Nate Tamarin, works in the White House. He is special assistant to the president for public engagement -- who has been a White House liaison to organized labor."

Nate Tamarin left his White House post on Friday, after four years and four months on the job.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on May 20, 2013 5:00 PM.

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