For immediate release
June 30, 2009
Pilar Weiss, [email protected]
Chicago – In the second day of UNITE HERE’s convention, delegates from across the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada elected John Wilhelm as the union’s President. President Wilhelm was elected to a five-year term along with 18 other union officers. The convention delegates also voted for a comprehensive overhaul of the union’s constitution.
UNITE HERE delegates unanimously voted to reform the union’s constitution in response to the need for more transparency and accountability. The decision-making governing bodies of the union between Conventions — known as the Executive Committee and the General Executive Board — will now be composed of a voting majority who will be elected locally and regionally throughout the U.S. and Canada before December 1st, with a high degree of accountability to those who elect them. The new General Executive Board will have greater power and accountability over the President and the other General Officers than the union’s previous structure.
UNITE HERE delegates also approved reforms to the union’s constitution that guarantee new levels of transparency for the union’s governance, finances, and all other aspects. Convention delegates also approved:
A Bill of Rights for union members and elected officers at local and international levels.
Strong guarantees of local and joint board autonomy, including that no local or joint board can be forced to merge with another affiliate unless the members of each of the merging affiliates vote separately in favor of the merger.
Institutionalized a commitment to diversity with the election of a new General Vice President for Immigration, Civil Rights, and Diversity, one of the two five General Officers; election of three General Executive Board members specifically assigned to form a Diversity Committee; and passage of a new initiative in support of Native American communities
President John Wilhelm noted, "I am proud of our Union’s new constitution. It stands in stark contrast to the top-down, autocratic manner in which SEIU has approached our union and its own members. I believe that UNITE HERE is starting an exciting new chapter in our history, and I am proud to be part of a union that is led by its members."
In another report to the delegates, President Wilhelm reported the major successes of UNITE HERE’s last five years, including:
Over 85,000 new members organized (or achieved organizing rights) nationally in the last 5 years;
In the Hotel Division, the Union organized almost 14,000 new workers in 92 hotels across 31 locals/affiliates;
In the Gaming Division, the Union organized (or achieved organizing rights) for 35,000 new workers across both established and new gaming jurisdictions;
Organized over 10,000 new food service workers;
Organized (or achieved organizing rights) for over 8,000 new airport service workers, including in 10 airports that previously had no union.