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Big union heads for splitsville

Washington – UNITE HERE, the body resulting from the 2004 merger of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, is suffering internal fissures, as leaders of a sizeable portion its U.S. membership have sued to dissolve the merger.

Together, 15 vice presidents – who represent roughly 150,000 of the members – filed suit in federal court in New York for the joint boards of the former UNITE to be “released from the merger agreement and the union's constitution.” The lawsuit claims that a faction of the UNITE HERE leadership “has used their majority on certain governing bodies to attack other affiliates and their leaders and resources.”

Specifically, the suit alleges the leadership of the former HERE leadership “merged with the intention of gaining access to the assets of UNITE and its affiliates, with no intention of working together as partners,” and alleges "breach of the covenants of good faith and fair dealing."

The suit has been filed as the executive committee meets in Washington.

“Instead of a collaborative organization built on pooled resources and mutual support, we will have a tyranny run by a faction of the board that will seize the assets built up over a hundred years by garment and textile workers," said Edgar Romney, evp and manager of the New York Metropolitan Area Joint Board of UNITE HERE. "My members did not elect me to preside over that, and we cannot allow it."

Altogether, UNITE HERE claims more than 500,000 currently employed and retired members.


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