Penny Pritzker is the heiress to the Hyatt Hotel fortune and is worth about $1.85 billion dollars, one of the wealthiest people in the world. She sit on the Hyatt board and until last month on the Chicago Board of Education.
She has had a tumultuous relationship with labor in Chicago. Hyatt, which her father founded, has been in contract negotiations for the last three years with Unite Here, the union representing hospitality workers. They have been very vocal in holding up Hyatt as the symbol of corporate greed. But today the pro-Obama union leaders refuse to comment, leading insiders to believe a back door agreement is near or they won’t comment because the son of unite here’s president is one of the president Obama’s labor advisors.
The Chicago Teachers Union says while Pritzker was on the board, families who had the most to lose lost the most, referring to the closing of 54 public schools. They also point out the tax subsidies given to the Hyatt for development they say could have been used for education.
Pritzker supporters defend her and say she’s been mislabeled and unfairly treated.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who appointed Pritzker to the school board released a statement today saying, “Throughout her career, Penny has been a champion for our students and our city, demonstrating incredible commitment and leadership in her every business, civic and philanthropic endeavor.”
Today, the president praised his long-time friend and campaign fundraiser for giving every business and every worker the best possibility to succeed.