For immediate release
July 11, 2005
Successes of First Year a Model as Labor Debates Future
and How to Grow
(New York, NY) – People in and around the labor movement are wondering how what happens this July at the AFL-CIO convention in Chicago will shape the future of working people. However, labor history was already made in Chicago last July with a merger that has paid real dividends for American workers.
On July 8, 2004, the garment, textile and laundry workers union UNITE merged with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, and formed UNITE HERE, a union of nearly half a million workers with a commitment to action and growth. Since that merger, the new union has won a series of important victories including strikes and lockouts in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlantic City; unprecedented contracts in the laundry and hotel industries; and corporate agreements guaranteeing workers a fair and neutral process by which to decide whether or not to join a union. By the end of 2005, UNITE HERE will have organized more new workers in one year than the two unions had combined in any past years.
“I am amazed by the incredible work our union has done in just one year. The benefits of the merger and the gains for workers are beyond what any of us had hoped,” says Bruce Raynor, General President of UNITE HERE. “That is part of why I can’t stand idly by while other labor leaders say we can’t win in this political climate. Our union has made the changes we want to see, and it’s working.”
“Our union has known for years that we have to ‘Change to Win,'” explains John W. Wilhelm, President/Hospitality Industries. “We know because we changed, and now we are winning.”
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For more information, including details of campaigns mentioned or interviews with workers, please contact Amanda Cooper at 212-332-9376 or at [email protected].