D. Taylor is the International President of one of the fastest growing unions in America, UNITE HERE, and a new organizing expert with a track record of results spanning nearly 40 years in the labor movement. He has served as President of UNITE HERE since 2012.
President Taylor is originally from Williamsburg, Virginia. He first joined the Union as a member of UNITE HERE Local 25 from a Washington, D.C. restaurant he worked in while attending Georgetown University in the 1970s. There, he would become a shop steward for the Local. Upon graduating, President Taylor moved to Nevada where he was hired on by the Union full time out of the Reno/Tahoe area, immediately working on a 11.5 month-long strike — and rapidly rose through the ranks.
President Taylor’s tenure in Nevada included helping grow the Union, UNITE HERE’s Culinary Workers Union Local 226, from 18,000 members to over 55,000 between 1987 and 2013. He also played a leadership role on the seven-year Frontier Casino strike – one of the longest successful strikes in labor history. He also led negotiations with the largest casinos on the Strip, pioneering higher standards in wages, healthcare, and workload that turned low-paying hospitality jobs into sustainable careers.
In 2004, President Taylor was appointed the Gaming Division Director of UNITE HERE’s International Union. In this role he led casino workers to victory across North America, and successfully organized new members in Mississippi, Florida, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. He also oversaw UNITE HERE’s expansion into Tribal Gaming in California and led Atlantic City workers through a strike. In 2009, President Taylor was elected General Vice President of the International Union before being elected General President in 2012.
As International President of UNITE HERE, President Taylor has always set ambitious goals for the Union’s organizing growth. Under the first five years of President Taylor’s leadership, UNITE HERE organized 62,000 workers (24% overall growth), surpassing organizing goals he set at the 2014 Convention. Of those 62,000 people, 12,000 of them reside in the American South, underscoring UNITE HERE’s commitment to organize in conservative, right-to-work states with uncommonly successful results. While growing in strides, UNITE HERE contracts have continued to strengthen under President Taylor’s leadership, resulting in union wages for UNITE HERE hotel housekeepers being nearly triple the non-union standard in many cities.
In 2016, the Union faced a new challenge — as did the nation — when Donald Trump was elected President. However, under President Taylor’s leadership, UNITE HERE has also achieved political victories that have bucked conventional wisdom regarding what labor can do under Trump — including leading Nevada to be the one bright spot for Democrats in an otherwise unfortunate Election Day.
Amid attacks on immigrants from the Trump administration, President Taylor pushed UNITE HERE to intensify its advocacy for immigrant workers with efforts to protect millions of working people with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or DACA. In all the Union’s efforts today, regardless of who is President of the United States, President Taylor believes that a critical strategy to growth and standards is broadening our leadership to reflect the diversity of our membership.
In 2018, UNITE HERE played a major role in delivering hard fought election victories in both Nevada and Arizona, becoming the critical force behind the only Senatorial races to swing blue (Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-NV and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-AZ).
Throughout 2019, President Taylor led the Union’s flagship campaign to raise the standards for airline catering workers — an invisible workforce left behind and excluded from the airline industry’s massive profits.
In 2020, UNITE HERE faced its greatest challenge yet — a global pandemic that would shut down the entire hospitality industry, rendering the Union’s membership 98% laid off at the peak of the shutdown measures. President Taylor led the Union back to recovery by prioritizing critical and creative strategies to help support out-of-work hospitality workers and their families. The Union’s pioneering recovery efforts for unemployed workers included winning recall rights via contract bargaining or legislation to bring tens of thousands of workers back to work that would have otherwise been left behind in an ever-changing economy. President Taylor also oversaw many health and safety legislative victories across the country that address the new working conditions in a COVID-19 world. He also oversaw federal legislative victories that include lobbying and winning free COBRA coverage for all unemployed workers in the U.S. through the American Rescue Plan. With that bill’s passage, the Union signed up over 40,000 unemployed and underemployed workers for six months of free benefits.
Despite the setbacks brought forth in 2020, under President Taylor’s leadership the Union led the largest labor canvassing efforts nationwide in key battleground states for the 2020 federal elections. UNITE HERE knocked on 3 million doors in Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania during the 2020 presidential election, and more than 1.6 million doors in Georgia during the Senate runoffs to secure a Democratic majority in the Senate and victories for the Biden/Harris ticket.
In 2022, President Taylor once again led the Union to run yet another highly-ambitious field program to secure four key battleground Senate races and land Democrats a Majority plus one — bucking the conventional notion of a so-called Republican “Red Wave” that was projected by the political class.
As the Union was driving federal politics forward for working-class people in 2020 and 2022, the new organizing never slowed down under President Taylor. As of February 2023, since the pandemic shutdowns were first announced in March 2020, UNITE HERE has organized over 30,000 new workers into our movement. In the last year alone, UNITE HERE has won landmark contracts with the highest standards for hospitality work anywhere in the nation.
President Taylor has also spurred efforts to advance Black union leaders and other leaders of color, in keeping with the Union’s longstanding commitment to civil rights and racial justice. This includes providing unequivocal support and resources to the UNITE HERE leaders that coordinate the Black Leadership Group, launched in 2013 in the wake of protests sparked in Ferguson, MO. The Black Leadership Group has since made public calls to “fight police brutality and anti-black violence… as we continue to fight for economic justice.”
President Taylor has also made healthcare and affordable prescription drugs a marquee union priority across the country, spearheading efforts to win cutting edge pharmaceutical transparency legislation in Nevada and California.
President Taylor and his wife Bobbette Bond, a leading advocate for quality, affordable health care, primarily live in Las Vegas. They are the proud parents to their two adult daughters. Follow him on Twitter: @DTaylorUH.