Penny Pritzker, an heiress to the Hyatt hotel fortune, is a leading candidate to become President Obama’s next commerce secretary as the president slowly moves to complete his second-term economic team.
Ms. Pritzker, who led the groundbreaking fund-raising effort for Mr. Obama’s first presidential campaign, withdrew from consideration for the same position in 2008, with some people suggesting that her family’s immense wealth might complicate her nomination at a time of deep financial crisis.
Now, however, people familiar with the president’s thinking, who declined to be named because no announcement had been made, said he may yet turn to Ms. Pritzker to lead the Commerce Department and join the administration’s effort to recharge the still sluggish economy.
Not surprisingly the idea of Obama stacking his economic team with yet more 1%ers is leading to opposition. Ms. Pritzker’s case being exceptionally problematic given her massive and diverse fortune inevitably leading to conflicts of interest as Commerce Secretary.The rich are already well represented in Obama’s administration.
And now a petition has been launched claiming Prtizker engaged in anti-worker practices as a Hyatt Board member and member of the Chicago School’s Board of Education:
As a member of the Hyatt Hotel chain board Penny Pritzker has refused to intercede on behalf of struggling workers. Last summer Chicago workers who organized a rally had the hotel’s heat lamps turned on during a mid-summer heatwave. Housekeepers have had their workloads nearly double without proper compensation. All the while Penny has remained silent.
She stood by as her family’s hotel chain received a company wide letter from OSHA that warned them of hazards facing housekeepers on the job...
Ms. Pritzker serves on the Chicago Public School’s Board of Education. In her role there she attempted to bust the union with her fellow board members by closing public schools and opening charter schools, mostly operated by the well-connected, that do not recognized the local union.
Will President Obama listen to the workers or pay a big fundraiser back?
Photo from Penny Pritzker’s website