Democratic Coalition Eats Self

"Without Penny Pritzker," The New York Times reports in a captivating article this weekend, "it is unlikely that Barack Obama ever would have been elected to the United States Senate or the presidency."

Pritzker, heiress to the Hyatt fortune and a huge mover/shaker in Chicago politics and society, has been one of Obama's most productive fundraisers over the years. But since the Democratic coalition depends not only on enlightened cajillionaires but on organized labor heavies like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), sometimes the ol' interests conflict. Put some Jiffy Pop in the microwave, and enjoy the show:

A standoff between labor and Hyatt hotels had been brewing for years over working conditions for housekeepers. By 2009, union officials decided to target Ms. Pritzker because of her ties to the president.

"We thought that a person who would spend so much time raising money for a person who cares about working people as much as Obama" would treat low-level workers better, said John Wilhelm of Unite, the group that has led the fight.

Henry Tamarin, a longtime organizer, helped create a devastating campaign against Ms. Pritzker, even though she was just one member of the family and organization. He hired an impersonator who walked the picket line handing out plastic coins and shouting "Get back to work! Penny needs her billions!" according to The Chicago Tribune.

In September, after Hyatt fired 100 housekeepers at nonunion hotels near Boston and replaced them with low-wage subcontractors, labor organizers flew a fired worker to confront Ms. Pritzker at a public appearance in Chicago. As she served on White House councils alongside Richard L. Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. president, his organization released a video that cast her as a villainess who hurt rather than helped the economy. [...]

"I feel a personal connection with the employees at the hotel company," Ms. Pritzker said in the interview. "The union attacks — it hurts. I don't like it. It should be an issue between Hyatt and the unions, not become something personal to me."

The story's best quote comes from former SEIU leader and current Obama besty Andy Stern:

"There is a huge unresolved set of issues in the Democratic Party between people of wealth and people who work," said Andy Stern, a labor leader. "Penny is a living example of that issue."

Reason on the ugly Mr. Stern here.

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  • DJF||

    “””’person who cares about working people as much as Obama”’’

    When has Obama ever show that he cares about working people?

  • tarran||

    I would argue that based on the idea that actions reveal a person's preferences, we can conclude Obama actually prefers people not to be working. :D

  • ||

    Obama's revealed preference is to allow enough people to be working so he can loot them to pay off those receiving government largesse.

    Turns out that the lootee, finding that her political investment is costing her money instead of being the gold mine it was for Goldman Sachs, can get a mite stingy when the looter comes back for help to get re-elected so he can continue plundering her.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    He cares about people working for the auto unions enough to tear up the normal bankruptcy process.

  • wareagle||

    the person who said that is reminiscent of the Flounder character in Animal House, who was told by Otter: "you fucked up; you trusted us."

  • Metazoan||

    I was going to say, it seems to me that many ultra-wealthy left-wing businesspeople care about the working class much less, having never been in it. They're only seeking regulations to bind the workers, anyway.

  • Paul.||

    When has Obama ever show that he cares about working people?

    When they have something he wants.

  • RBS||

    people of wealth and people who work

    I had no idea they were mutually exclusive.

  • ||

    My personal experience is that the wealthy I know tend to work their tails off, more so than those a portion of the political class labels "workers".

  • ||

    Seconded.

    Also, didn't Obama just say that no one who built his/her own business did so on their own. Something about roads and teachers.

  • ||

  • The Hammer||

    So Obama is only a few months behind Liz Warren in his political development? Is he going to be claiming to be half black and half Cherokee in his next autobiography?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Just another example of the partially white man stealing from the Native American.

  • Michael||

    I thought about posting this but figured a few of you would likely beat me to it anyway. What a fucking arrogant, ignorant goon this guy is. Shouldn't come as any surprise considering that the closest he's been to ever creating jobs is ordering two books to be written about himself.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    He created jobs for ghostwriters.

  • Metazoan||

    Right, whenever the government is even remotely involved (including whenever you are not raided by non-police), they apparently get the credit for what you do.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Both parties are comprised of many conflicting interests. It's enjoyable to watch them in open competition during an election year.

  • R C Dean||

    So, did I miss something, or is Ms. Pritzker no longer towing Obama's lion?

  • ||

    I believe they've reigned her in.

  • 0x90||

    "reigned her in inn."

  • Hugh Akston||

    Put some Jiffy Pop in the microwave, and enjoy the show

    That could have some unintended consequences.

  • Hugh Akston||

    For instance, it could SugarFree the link.

  • SugarFree||

    "Microwave? Never heard of that brand, sweetheart. What you want is the Deluxe Gas Princess. This beauty has four broilers; a casserole indicator; a fold-out ironing board; and, down here, a foot-soaking tub; since, as a woman, you'll be standing in front of it all day. "

  • Auric Demonocles||

    "Sir, your wife's hysterical, so I'll address this to you. This oven is lightning fast. it takes only five hours to cook a roast."

  • The Hammer||

    You know, you really don't cook enough roasts, SugarFree.

  • Mr. Soul||

    How 'bout these cookies, Sugarfree?

  • NotSure||

    A good example of why America needs more than two political parties that can win elections.

  • ||

    Most Americans would be way better off with zero political parties that can win elections, because there would be no state and thus nothing for political parties to do but kvetch.

  • Bee Tagger||

    Having the rhetoric of your party turned against you doesn't sting much when the head of that party has proven willing and able to dole out favors for wealthy donors.

  • The Hammer||

    So she just needs to donate harder?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "There is a huge unresolved set of issues in the Democratic Party between people of wealth and people who work," said Andy Stern, a labor leader. "Penny is a living example of that issue."

    There can be an enormous practical advantage to giving money to the party of organized labor--especially if you're always worried about organized labor.

    Don't most people out there just argue and vote and donate their interests.

    A lot of people are willing to be fair in their support--right up until being fair might hit them in the wallet.

    Then, suddenly, paying for some protection from the people who are causing you trouble makes a ton of sense.

  • ||

    Not really, if the people who are causing you trouble only got power due to your advance payments in anticipation of loot that never came, and your scaling back would result in the troublemakers getting the boot.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm thinking of two other shining examples of this:

    1) Bill Gates.

    Microsoft never gave any money to politicians until the late '90s. And Bill Gates was getting creamed by the government by way of anti-trust.

    So what did he do? He bought himself a news outlet, and he started giving money to various political causes. Now the government isn't giving him many problems anymore.

    2) Warren Buffet.

    To put it bluntly, Bill Gates learned everything he knows about how to deal with politics from Warren Buffet. Warren Buffet has owned news outlets for decades--going back to Cap Cities ABC and the Washington Post.

    He's a big Democrat supporter, too, and a lot of his companies, over the years, have needed to contend with organized labor.

    In conclusion, paying protection money to the mob won't save you entirely from the mafia, but the way this country is run? The alternative can be a whole lot worse.

    I saw the president strip assets away from Washington Mutual's stock holders with complete contempt--and get away with it. I saw the president default on Chrysler's bondholders and leave them with nothing--just because he felt like it.

    Pay the man off, or when the time is comes? He can pick any one of a dozen other victims, or he can pick you. Do a risk assessment. Run the numbers. Do a cost/benefit analysis.

    Once you get big enough to be in the news? All the politicians are doing a cost/benefit analysis on putting your scalp on their wall, that's for certain.

  • Metazoan||

    I think this is exactly it.

  • Loki||

    "There is a huge unresolved set of issues in the Democratic Party between people of wealth and people who work," said Andy Stern

    How much money does Andy Stern make?

    This is what happends when pander to conlicting interest groups. WTF did he think was going to happen? Sweet, sweet schadenfreude.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    It shows cognitive dissonance on the part of Pritzker.

  • ant1sthenes||

    How much does Andy Stern do the sort of things he's referring to as 'work' (presumably running things doesn't count or a lot of executives would be workers)?

  • Spoonman.||

    They really want to go Eastern Air Lines with the whole country?

    Frank Lorenzo is still a wealthy man.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    Obama favors 100% (public) employment.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Has he started classifying welfare as employment?

  • ||

    She undoubtedly thought her $$ would shield her from union troubles. It's delicious that it's not politically expedient for her idol Obama to bail her out.

  • Ken Shultz||

    How much trouble would she be in if she hadn't made those donations?

  • John||

    As the money runs out expect to see more and more of this.

  • Mr. Soul||

    as Thatcher observed, socialism works until they run out of other people's money. The problem with the democratic coalition is that it's full of "other people".

  • Invisible Finger||

    Should I believe that all the SEIU workers at Hyatt Hotels et al are reporting every penny (pun not intended) they receive in tips?

  • Jerry on the road||

    I believe it doesn't matter, IRS will simply use the work history of workers and a 'fair tip rate' to calculate the amount owed.

  • ||

    I see Bill Maher is no longer being coy about being a TEAM BLUE toadie.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Andy Stern. How high up is he on the most-punchable list?

  • 0x90||

    Right between Joe Biden and Bill Maher.

  • Brandybuck||

    Why is the First Lady wearing a bedsheet?

  • Mumu Bobby||

    My in the industry brother who previously worked for Hyatt has long told me that Hyatt is famous for being antagonistic towards its employees. It's also closely held so the profits are split between a relatively small number of owners, unlike most of Hyatt's competitors which are part of big corporations.

    That a skin flint hotel heiress with expertise in shaking down the little guy would be not just a Democrat but a liberal Democrat isn't surprising. She got hers.

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