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Can ‘One’ Union Organize 100,000 New Workers ‘In Just Five Years?’ UNITE HERE Says “It Will”

Published Wednesday, July 3, 2019
by Bloomberg Law
Can ‘One’ Union Organize 100,000 New Workers ‘In Just Five Years?’ UNITE HERE Says “It Will”

(LAS VEGAS, NEVADA) - Organize, fight, win contracts - repeat.

That was the central message UNITE HERE left hundreds of Union Delegates during its recently-held three-day constitutional convention in Las Vegas last week.

The Union, one of the Nation’s fastest-growing and most militant, carried that philosophy to the ambitious goals it set for itself over the next five years.

UNITE HERE President D. Taylor said his Union would organize 100,000 new Workers by the time it met again for another convention in 2024.

It’s an almost unprecedented goal for the 300,000-Member Union that would represent a roughly 33% growth rate.

“We are ‘in a moment of time where we have the opportunity to organize on a scale we have never seen in our lifetime,’” Taylor told the assembled Delegates. “This ‘moment will not last.’  ‘And by the way, it won’t wait on us.’”

With the election for Union President uncontested and no contentious changes to the Labor Organization’s Constitution, Taylor’s organizing ambitions took center stage.

The Union also pledged to get more of its Members elected into political office, increase retirement security, and build a culture of inclusion and partnership within its ranks.

The radical goals came against a backdrop of aggressive contract fights.

The Union led thousands of Marriott Workers to a work stoppage in 2018 and is shepherding thousands of airline Catering Workers to a potential Strike later in the coming months. 

UNITE HERE is no stranger to ambitious goals.

At its last convention, the Union set a goal of bringing in 50,000 new Members between 2014 and 2019.

Instead, it organized more than 62,000 Workers.

Taylor characterized the organizing goal as a fight to bring freedom to Workers - freedom to spend time with family, freedom to afford medical care, freedom to speak opinions and freedom to have a decent living standard.

“Our campaigns and our fights ‘really mean that our Union is a union of Freedom Fighters,’” Taylor told Delegates. “Freedom Fighters – ‘we believe in freedom, we won our freedom, by God, we have our freedom.’”

But perhaps just as surprising as the organizing targets is that the Union wants a large number of those Workers to come from the South.

The fight to organize Workers in the traditionally anti-Union South is a struggle for the moral soul of the Nation, according to Union Organizer Marlene Patrick-Cooper.

She’s the President of UNITE HERE 23, a far-reaching Local that stretches from Washington to Biloxi, Mississippi, Houston and Indianapolis.

“If ‘we don’t change’ the South, ‘we don’t change the country,”’ Patrick-Cooper said. “If we ‘change the South, the South changes the country.’”

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