"Barack Obama made a controversial choice as commerce secretary Thursday when he nominated top fundraiser and Hyatt hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, in spite of her long-running dispute with unions over workplace conditions and school closures."Penny Pritzker’s failed Superior Bank lost customer savings in subprime crisis"
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. . . unions . . . lambasted her over conditions of workers in the Hyatt hotel chain, on whose board she sits.
The hotel workers union Unite has campaigned against Hyatt and targeted board members in the past, organising a boycott through its Hyatt Hurts campaign. She has also been criticised for her role on the Chicago Board of Education.
Kristine Mayle, financial secretary of the Chicago Teachers Union, called Pritzker's appointment "deeply disappointing".
Pritzker resigned from the board in March after overseeing what is believed to be the largest school closing programme in US history. "I can only hope she does a better in this position than she had done for the children of Chicago," said Mayle.
Chicago is planning to shut 54 schools in a move that will hit 47,000 children, 88% of them African American. The closures have sparked huge protests. "It just shows if you donate enough money, everything is fine," said Mayle.
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There was strong speculation in 2008 that she would be appointed to commerce, but she said at the time she was not putting her name forward for family reasons. At the time, the Pritzker family was involved in a long-running dispute with the IRS over overseas tax holdings, and also ownership of a bank involved in the sub-prime scandal, both of which would have made any appointment problematic."
"Commerce Secretary Nominee Tied to Bank Scandal"
"Obama Finance Chair Tied To Subprime Scandal"
This has to be one of the most outrageous nominations in the history of American politics, but the Pritzker and Crown families own Barry.