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Dems Kennedy, Pritzker Court Union Members During Wage Demonstration

(CBS) — Two wealthy Democrats vying to be Illinois governor were in a battle Friday over which one is more deserving to wear the union label.

Unions and the workers they represent will no doubt be key in the upcoming governor’s race. It’s support that J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy began seeking in a very public way.

Ten thousand workers in more than 100 private nursing homes across the state have been fighting for a contract for more than a year.

Pritzker and Kennedy both want to join.

But in seeking support from minimum-wage unionized workers, the Pritzker family’s control of Hyatt hotels could be an issue for J.B. Pritzker.

Hyatt housekeepers waged a four-year battle for a union contract. In one infamous incident, hotel managers even turned heat lamps on picketing workers during a heat wave.

Pritzker distanced himself from that history.

“I have never worked in the hotel business. I have always had my own company. It’s what I built from scratch,” he tells CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley.

Kennedy agrees union support is crucial but said he’s interested in appealing to wide array of voters. “Every vote matters, and whether that’s a union vote or an independent vote, we want them all,” he says.

Asked whom he prefers in the governor’s race, Mayor Emanuel said he’s not ready to choose. He just wants someone who can deliver a budget — an obvious shot at Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Other Democrats who have said they will run for governor are Chicago Ald. Ameya Pawar and Daniel Bliss.

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