October 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Marc Norton
For nearly two weeks now, 4,000 hotel workers have pounded the pavement, some on strike, most locked out, battling some of the biggest corporations in the world.
On Monday, October 11, Forbes Magazine published its annual list of the 400 richest people in the US. Think about it -- 400 people with the combined net worth of $1 trillion. Any one of these guys is undoubtedly worth more than the combined net worth of the 4,000 hotel workers on the streets in San Francisco today.
Eleven of these fat cats are Pritzkers, the family that runs the Hyatt chain, including the Grand Hyatt and the Hyatt Regency that so crudely showed their workers the door. Here is the net worth of each of the Pritzkers:
$1.7 billion - Thomas Pritzker
$1.6 billion - Penny Pritzker
$1.5 billion - James Pritzker
$1.5 billion - John A. Pritzker
$1.5 billion - Linda Pritzker
$1.5 billion - Karen Pritzker
$1.5 billion - Daniel Pritzker
$1.5 billion - Anthony Pritzker
$1.5 billion - Jean (Gigi) Pritzker
$1.5 billion - Jay Robert (J.B.) Pritzker
$1.2 billion - Nicholas Pritzker
These folks can't afford to pay their hotel workers' medical premiums? Or give them a raise of more than 20 cents per hour? Whoa, we wouldn't want to put them in the poorhouse.
Also on the Forbes list is Paris Hilton's grandfather -- the esteemed William Barron Hilton, worth a bare $775 million, son of Hilton Hotels founder, Conrad Hilton. Poor William just made it back onto the Forbes list after a five-year absence. Let's not hit a guy just when he is getting back on his feet.
And there is Richard Marriott, worth $1.4 billion, and J. Willard Marriott Jr., worth $1.2 billion -- but, wait, the Marriott isn't on strike this time around, having just completed a decades-long struggle in a vain attempt to keep the Union out of the Marriott near the convention center altogether.
Maybe all this high finance is the reason the Chronicle has been hiding most of its hotel strike coverage in the business section. Remember the days when the two (count them, two) big San Francisco dailies each had dueling labor reporters? Those days are gone, gone, gone.
To be fair to the Chron, the paper did run a good strike article Sunday, October 10, by Joan Ryan, giving the lie to the claim that the scabs are keeping things tidy. The article featured a scab guest at the locked-out Holiday Inn at Fisherman's Wharf complaining to a scab front desk clerk that he couldn't check in because the scab maid and her "cleaning partner" (whoever that might be) hadn't been able to clean their 40 rooms just yet.
It has been reported elsewhere -- not in the Chron -- that the scabs at the Argent managed to light the kitchen on fire. So maybe all those fire trucks that keep showing up at the hotels aren't just responding to false alarms.
Yet another people's spy reports that a group of Marines, here for Fleet Week, checked into another locked-out Holiday Inn, this one near the Civic Center on 8th Street. The Marines -- at the Holiday Inn? What a bunch of wimps. Couldn't they have set up a camp at the Presidio or someplace?
Time to call in the People's Army.