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Statement From UNITE HERE General President Bruce Raynor on Today's General Executive Board Meeting

CHICAGO, April 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by UNITE HERE General President Bruce Raynor:

Contrary to a press release just distributed by John Wilhelm's press contact, today's General Executive Board meeting ended with me as Chair of the GEB and as General President of UNITE HERE. To be crystal clear: I have not been suspended. To the contrary, the Board authorized Wilhelm to discuss this issue with me.


Rather than addressing the needs of our members and the reality of the split in the union, Wilhelm and his followers continue to attack the 150,000 members who chose to leave and those who lead them. During the meeting, John Wilhelm and his followers continued to ignore both the democratic voice of workers as well as the urgent need to negotiate an end to this failed merger. In Pittsburgh, where hospitality workers of Local 57 voted in every workplace and signed petitions seeking to disaffiliate from UNITE HERE with the Pennsylvania Joint Board, Wilhelm's bunch voted to ignore the decision of those workers. And in Philadelphia, where hospitality workers of Local 274 voted in large numbers and the local leadership agrees, Wilhelm's group voted to reject democracy and start trusteeship hearings.

In Southern California, Wilhelm's followers reject all dissent in Local 11. Following serious allegations from hundreds of members in dozens of workplaces of problems with a vote to increase dues and take money from the strike fund in Local 11, I called for an investigation. At today's meeting, Wilhelm stated that he advised Local 11 that they do not need to deal with the investigator.

Wilhelm's notion of "democracy" only extends as far as the staff members that he and his loyalists appoint to make decisions for workers.

His claims of a serious commitment to fiscal responsibility have also proven to be empty. After months of former-HERE locals' stone-walling to avoid required internal audits, they voted to prohibit the union from initiating any new audits.

Every day, members are facing the reality of the economic crisis, but another meeting came and went without a single resolution about getting members back to work, defending their benefits, or fighting for policies that help workers. Nor was there a single word of discussion from Wilhelm or his followers about bringing this dispute to a long overdue end.

For months, Wilhelm and his followers have resorted to the demonization -- of me, of the leaders from the former UNITE and the former HERE who opposed his agenda, and now SEIU and Andy Stern are the target. The fact is, they persist in demonization instead of acknowledging that nearly 150,000 members have rejected their vision for the future. I continue to call for a negotiated end to this merger, so that all of us can focus on building futures for working people.

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