At a joint convention ending on July 10, the merger of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees intl. union and the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees became official. Now known as UNITE-HERE, the frmr. UNITE chief, Bruce Raynor, will become the merged union’s gen. pres.; while the frmr. head of HERE, John Wilhem, will now be the new union’s hospitality industry pres. Left unanswered is whether Jesse Jackson’s mistress, Karin Stanford, will now be on the payroll of the merged union, as she was put on the HERE payroll in 1999, collecting $35,000 plus health care benefits while performing little work for the HERE.
The 2 union chieftains are part of a larger coalition of aggressive unions calling themselves the New Unity Partnership (NUP). Besides Raynor and Wilhem, NUP is headed by Terence O’ Sullivan of the Laborers Intl. Union of N. Amer., Andrew Stern of the Serv. Employees Intl. Union, and Doug McCarron of the United Bhd. of Carpenters. The NUP is advocating more union mergers as a means of increasing organized labor’s bargaining power nationwide. Carpenters chief McCarron has already begun that process in his union.
In 1996, McCarron removed the UBC’s collective bargaining powers from its local affiliates, and consolidated them into 55 unelected “regional councils.” Federal courts have ruled that this power grab violated long-standing regulations of the U.S. Dept. of Labor that any unit of a union assuming the “functions” of local unions, such as collective bargaining, must submit to direct election by the affected members. [Daily Labor Report, 7/13/2004]