Hotel workers protest Hyatt heir's cabinet nomination

May 21, 2013

(Shannon Heffernan/WBEZ)
Protesters outside Hyatt Regency McCormick place chanted “Don’t check in, check out.” The union said hotel employees deserve better work conditions.

A picket line stretched for roughly two blocks in front of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in the south Loop. The demonstration was organized by Unite Here, which represents Hyatt Hotel workers.

Hyatt is a major source of the Pritzker family wealth and Penny Pritzker currently sits on their board. The union says that a Commerce Secretary's first concern should be good jobs for Americans but that is not what her work with Hyatt demonstrates.

The union says the workload for housekeepers is unreasonable and results in injuries.

Lesley Newson was still in her housekeeping uniform when she showed up to the rally.

"A lot of us sustain back injury, some have neck or shoulder pain," she said. 

Cathy Youngblood works at a Hyatt in West Hollywood and has been traveling the country speaking out. She is angry that Hyatt has been hiring more temporary workers at minimum wage and without benefits.

"Hyatt is leading the industry in the race to the bottom," Youngblood said. "We think Hyatt could do better. We think it’s time for Hyatt to change."

In a written statement Hyatt said that Unite Here is spreading misinformation in order to get publicity.

Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @shannon_h