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The Price of a Good Night’s Sleep

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Posted on Feb 7, 2012
hotelworkersrising.org

By Scott Tucker

(Page 2)

If all the political trumpery of Donald Trump finds a more sophisticated voice in Penny S. Pritzker, will we pay attention to the social status of this very woman or to the fact that women too can wield ruling class power? If President Obama beats both Bill and Hillary Clinton at their own game of political triangulation, and goes on to appoint Wall Street insiders to the inner circle of his economic advisers, what is the lesson learned? That race no longer has anything to do with class in this country, or that every ruling class throughout history has learned to “change its colors” or face its own extinction? In reality, this much social change is not inconsistent with the much deeper and growing class divisions that propelled the Occupy Wall Street movement to spread throughout the United States.

If Pritzker’s name is unfamiliar to many readers, that’s because she wields much more power than many more famous rich people (including Trump) and plays an even more central role in the inner circles of the ruling class. Therefore, as befits the classier creatures of that class, she knows by second nature not to advertise her own existence with quite the same brassy bellowing as Trump. Don’t take my word for it, but consult her biography on her website and there you will find this information:

“President Obama has appointed Ms. Pritzker to the President’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness which advises the Administration on economic growth and job creation. Ms. Pritzker previously served on the President’s Economic Advisory Board. She was National Finance Chair of the 2008 Barack Obama for President campaign and co-chair of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee.”

And you will also find this information:

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“She serves on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corporation.”

But that is too modest. According to George N. Schmidt, writing online at Substance News on June 12, 2011: “The key person persuading Barack Obama to abandon the AFL-CIO’s central organizing demand (and one that Obama had agreed to) was Chicagoan Penny Pritzker, the most prominent member of the billionaire Pritzker family and an owner and board member of Hyatt Hotels Inc. News reports revealed that after teachers and other union workers elected Barack Obama in 2008, Penny Pritzker led a group of the nation’s wealthiest hotel (and ‘hospitality’) owners and executives in urging the newly elected President to ignore his promise to support labor’s ‘Free Choice Act.’ ”

Hyatt Hotels Corp. owns hundreds of properties in dozens of countries. Hyatt housekeepers have the highest overall injury rates when compared with similar groups of workers in similar hotel chains. Hispanic women have higher rates of injuries than white female co-workers. Hispanic and Asian males are also injured at higher rates than white males. Racism and sexism are therefore not only personal prejudices or subjective distortions of reality. Whether we like it or not, the whole complex of attributes associated with “race”—country of origin, color of skin, language and customs—remains a tracking system for class division, low wages, unsafe work and systematic disrespect. And in this sexual division of labor, women are still doing plenty of the heavy lifting and bearing plenty of the pain as well.

Does this mean the more things change, the more they stay the same? Not quite. Cynicism of that kind (especially when expressed in mangled French) is usually a refuge for people who are too comfortable to have earned any real fatalism. The year 2011 may be remembered in the future as a year of great changes, and yet those uprisings and rebellions may rank only as tremors and temblors in comparison to the mightier earthquakes we may yet expect in the global social order. The Occupy movement created much higher levels of class consciousness over the course of less than a year. We, the people, are speaking more honestly about class and power than we were even in the year 2010. And by the year 2020, who would dare predict the scale and depth of popular rebellion from below? If we only notice that the anatomy, complexion and sexual persuasion of the ruling class are not strictly male, white and straight, then we have not yet discovered that the New World is not even new. Just as the older members of the working class may yet remember a time when even the Irish and the Italians and the Jews were not quite “white,” so we are now witnessing the age in which the ruling class changes stripes and colors like a chameleon. Technology is certainly racing ahead at a faster pace than certain age-old strategies of class rule and division.

Some of the dearest people I ever knew are now dead, but they were once lively enough to bust up a “private party” for Bill Clinton in the courtyard of Philadelphia’s City Hall on May 28, 1993. The survivors of that protest will recall that our message was loud and clear: “HIV is not a crime! Why are Haitians doing time?” In certain press and TV accounts at that time, however, the protesters were regarded as little better than terrorists. We were rude, we were determined, and once in a while we won. By June 18 of the same year, the last of the Haitian refugees had been released from Guantanamo, and were greeted in New York and Miami with cheers and champagne. That was a long legal and political battle in defense of refugees who were sweepingly suspected of being mere “vectors” of disease.

And then there was the protest in New York City, when the surging crowd of marchers swept through police lines with this roaring chant: “Arrest us! Just try it! Remember Stonewall was a riot!” Please, I anticipate all you good people with all your good reasons for recommending nonviolence. Civil disobedience I learned long ago from Tolstoy and Thoreau, from Gandhi and King, and from the Quakers who kept me company when I delivered my letter to a draft board in Media, Pa., stating my reasons for refusing draft registration. At the age of 18, I really was a religious pacifist and a Tolstoyan anarchist. Or so I hoped, because that kind of faith is always a hope. Now, at the age of 56, my view of nonviolence still has a wide horizon but is also closer to the ground. We are the 99 percent, but the 1 percent can still hire more hired guns than we can ever afford. In years past, a sane estimate of the balance of power between armed police and unarmed protesters was possible. Nowadays, residents in the White House and even the Supreme Court have made social reason a much more frightening open question. The coordinated police assaults upon Occupy encampments all across the United States will teach us to evolve or perish. People of all ages and backgrounds dared to stake out common ground and to affirm public life. We will not easily be driven back into the old habit of leaving politics to professional politicians.


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By Fullblad, February 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment

In the wealth of nations it’s spelled right out; workers should only be paid enough so that they continue coming to work and procreate enough for a continually adequate supply of future workers. Anymore than that is being overly generous.

Guess we need to re write that one.

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By Ed Romano, February 9, 2012 at 9:23 am Link to this comment

Yes ! Of course. United we stand. Have a seat.

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By Scooter2012, February 9, 2012 at 9:03 am Link to this comment

Truth Dig? While the Spirit of your article is right on you should check your facts-

1. Do you know you are picketing at one of the only Hotels in West Hollywood that is a Union Hotel and operates under the terms of a Union Contract?

2. Do you know that the Andaz West Hollywood operates under a fully negotiated Union Contract, which protects it’s workers and provides for a full living wage and benefits, eventhough the Union will not sign that contract?

3.  Do you know that the reason that the Union will not sign the contract is that the Contract seeks to bind non-union workers at other hotels- without those workers even been giving the choice to either unionize or not?

4.  Do you know that by venting your vitritude at the Andaz West Hollywood you are negatively impacting Union Jobs while you ignore the Hotels that are not union run?

So based on these solid facts, known to me as a member of the UNION, who works at the Andaz West Hollywood- why are you jepordizing my Job because you either have not been told all the facts, or even worse you omit these important items.

I am proud of my Union, however I disagree with their tactics of targeting my Hotel, which runs under the terms and spirit of a Union contract whose terms my Union negotiated.

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By Ed Romano, February 9, 2012 at 8:32 am Link to this comment

I was a blue collar worker for most of my life and belonged to several unions. My experience is that Jay Gould, the robber baron of 150 years ago, was absolutely right when he said….I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half….I wish with all my heart this wasn’t true, but wishing will not make it so.

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By elizabeth allen, February 9, 2012 at 8:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There is more this story. Russia doesnt want the UN, NATO or any county to take out another soverign nation ala Libya. Russia has accurately described Syria is in a civil war. The Syrian milita groups are being funded and delivered weapons from the US and Israel. Russia calls for both sides to put down their arms and to hold negotiations rather than war. It appears to me Russia has better attitude in dealing with Syria than does the US and Israel.

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By Outraged, February 9, 2012 at 12:02 am Link to this comment

Mr Tucker:

I would like to weigh in and say while I don’t agree 100% with your article. I agree 100%+ with its message.

As far as workers go, an injury to one is an injury to us all. Furthermore, an injury to any of us, as Americans is an injury to us all. Soldier on.

Your article is articulate and moving, but I am in WI and certainly cannot support you physically, just the same I wish you and those who stand with you the best.

Many thoughts of solidarity are with you.

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By Textynn, February 8, 2012 at 11:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I get so tired of people being led by the nose by organizations that are given awards for this and that.  These companies that win these things all pay into the outfit that gives the prize, award, etc.  It’s all for PR and people believe it like wide eyed simpletons.  Companies get together all the time and create these awards for something to use for their commercials etc. The same outfit runs under different names and gives out awards in different names.  Wake up.

We are being exploited and taught to accept the unacceptable. We have to all stand in solidarity. Voting is a waste of time.

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By diman, February 8, 2012 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

I’d hate to piss on your parade Gerard, but the so-called successes of “spirit” in the history of the social movements are so rare that we can safely declare that almost all of the social movements have been nothing but failures.

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By Blueokie, February 7, 2012 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

Doff of the chapeau to Scott Tucker for his writing and truthdig for including it when I thought I would be coming by to ignore Dionne, and Robinson.  Insightful and well said sir.

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By gerard, February 7, 2012 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment

What an articulate, graceful and profoundly moving article!  Thank you for it!

Thanks particularly for parts pointing up the successes of “spirit” in the history of the social movements referred to—and the absolute necessity of each and every individual counted for equal human value and for the irresistable (non-violent) force of the All.  United We Stand.

Occupy reverberates!

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