Reporting John Cody
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CHICAGO (CBS) – Union workers locked in a two-year contract dispute with Hyatt Hotels accused the Pritzker family who owns the hotel chain paying too little in property taxes, an allegation the hotel chain called “deeply offensive.”
At a rally outside the Cook County Building on Thursday, Unite HERE Local 1 hotel workers chanted, “Pritzkers pay your taxes.”
Union president Henry Tamarin said Pritzker family members should stop appealing their property tax valuations, saying property tax reductions for the Pritzkers hurt other taxpayers.
“We think the family that owns the Hyatt hotels has gone off the reservation of what’s fair and just,” Tamarin said.
The Hyatt hotels responded that the union should focus on contract negotiations and stop attacking the Pritzker family personally. The hotel chain issued a statement Thursday, saying Tamarin’s tactics are a distraction from the real issue, calling personal attacks on the Pritzkers “deeply offensive.”
“Our nearly 3,500 associates in Chicago would be much better served if Henry Tamarin would focus on their interests rather than media grandstanding,” Hyatt officials said in a written statement. “It is sad that he would spend his time and the union’s money to attack Pritzker family members rather than negotiating constructively with Hyatt, which has been trying for more than two years to secure an agreement that would give our associates the wage and benefit increases they deserve.”
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Thursday was the first day for Cook County taxpayers to pay their first installment property tax bills and Tamarin said the Pritzkers, one of Chicago’s wealthiest families, is not paying its fair share. He said Pritzker appeals on property value assessments led to tax reductions totaling $300,000 over four years for several family members.
Tamarin said both the Hyatt’s wage dispute with the union and the Pritzker’s property tax appeals are examples of the family failing to do what’s fair and just.
He acknowledged Pritzker tax appeals are legal, and that thousands of taxpayers appeal their property tax assessments every year, but he said the Pritzkers should not appeal their real estate taxes, because the system is short on revenue and they can afford to pay more.
“What we’re questioning is their desire to maximize their advantage of the system, at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers, at the expense of the public services that they espouse,” Tamarin said.