Hotel workers union rejects Pritzker as Commerce nominee

One of the nation's biggest labor unions announced Monday it is opposing President Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary. 

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Donald Taylor, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE), said his organization rejects Penny Pritzker because of a wage dispute among workers at the Hyatt hotel chain. Pritzker sits on the board of the hotel chain, which her family controls. 

Employees for the Hyatt Hotels are planning strikes until the hotel chain ends a multiyear wage freeze.  

The announcement comes shortly before the start of confirmation hearings for Pritzker, who was an early major campaign donor for Obama.  

"We are opposed to the nomination of Penny Pritzker based on what has taken place at Hyatt," Taylor told the New York Daily News

"Hyatt has singled itself out as the worst hotel employer in the United States, leading the industry in outsourcing practices that destroy good jobs and hurt housekeepers," a HERE statement on the protests reads. 

HERE has also accused the Hyatt Hotels of problems with worker safety and making housekeepers clean bathroom floors on their knees without using a mop, according to the Daily News

In response, Hyatt released a statement saying the labor union was spreading "misinformation about Hyatt associates' workplace experience." 

"Our associates in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Waikiki have endured nearly four years without a wage increase because UniteHere leaders won't allow our associates to vote on new contracts unless Hyatt agrees to impose unionization on employees at other Hyatt hotels," the statement reads.

"We've offered the same wage and benefits terms that the union accepted at other hotels in these four cities. It's a shame UniteHere leaders are sacrificing the needs of those they represent in order to build their membership. It's time they let our associates vote on new contracts."

Obama nominated Pritzker to be commerce secretary on May 2. The cabinet position has been vacant for more than a year.

Updated at 4:20 p.m.