Hotel Owned by Obama Finance Chair Turns up the Heat on Union Protesters

And by "heat," I'm not using a metaphor.

Unite Here Local 1 said Thursday that hotel workers have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against Hyatt Corp. after an incident last week in which heat lamps were used to repel striking housekeepers.

The union maintains 10 heat lamps were turned for more than an hour last Thursday morning, amid record temperatures, during a demonstration to draw attention to Hyatt's treatment of its workers.

"The employer assaulted the employees and tried to fry them by shining heat lamps on them in the middle of what was already a hot, humid day," the workers' complaint alleges.

Earlier this week, a Hyatt spokesman said that the hotel's general manager had accepted responsibility for the incident. He retired from the company Friday, which had been previously planned, the company said.

Hyattt responded that it has filed federal labor practice charges against it union "for unlawful picketing in addition to the existing charges its refusal to negotiate in good faith."

Whatever the merits of the allegation turn out to be, it's worth noting that Hyatt is owned by the Priztker family. Penny Pritzker has made a name for herself in politics, as one of Barack Obama's top campaign lieutenants.

Ms. Pritzker serves on the President's Council for Jobs and Competitiveness which advises the Obama Administration on economic growth and job creation. For the past two years, Ms. Pritzker served on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board which evaluated economic policy. She was National Finance Chair of the Barack Obama for President campaign and co-chair of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

It'll be interesting to see where the NLRB takes this case. The Pritzkers support Obama, but Unite Here is an AFL-CIO affiliate. And the AFL-CIO boss, Richard Trumka, is famously a very frequent visitor to the Obama White House.