||Posted: Mar. 10 2004,15:59
The news report of a merger between HERE, the Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union and UNITE, the clothing, textiles and laundry union, is important news for all workers including illegal immigrants, because these unions are in the forefront of organizing immigrant workers and assuring their rights.
By bringing immigrant workers into the trade union movement, these unions promote worker unity and deny unscrupulous employers the option of pitting one group of workers against another.
This is a great step forward for the American labor movement which did not support union rights for illegal immigrants during the 19th and 20th Centuries.
And, of course, it is a great step forward for immigrant workers at the same time.
The new union will represent 440,000 active members and more than 400,000 retirees throughout North America. The tentative agreement is expected to be ratified with a vote by rank-and-file members at a special joint convention in Chicago in July. . .
UNITE and HERE have collaborated most recently in the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, the successful struggle for a fair contract for Yale workers, and in the current effort to unionize H&M retail and distribution workers. . .
UNITE historically represents workers in the apparel and textile industries, and more recently has organized industrial laundries, distribution centers and workers in light manufacturing. HERE members are in the hospitality industries, working in hotels, airports, casinos, food service, and restaurants. Though there are places where the industries overlap, particularly in hospitality and laundry, the merger is primarily a reflection of the two unions' shared values and priorities: social justice economic opportunity, civil rights, the rights of immigrant workers and a commitment to organizing unrepresented workers. . .
"This is a non-traditional merger of two non-traditional unions," says HERE President John Wilhelm. "Our outstanding members and staff are recognized even outside of the labor movement; both unions are regarded for their work on behalf of progressive causes. The HERE Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride brought together activists of every stripe,and UNITE is largely responsible for developing the anti-sweatshop movement in the U.S.and Canada."
UNITE HERE will be headquartered in New York City.The new union will combine the complete resources and assets of each organization, including the $3.6 billion Amalgamated Bank, the only union-owned bank in North America.
Edited by CPNN Administrator on Mar. 10 2004,19:47