Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stand together or fall alone.

By Terry Bankert, 3/9/08
Posted First to Blogging for Michigan

I am still following the Unite Hereiu struggle.

The time needs of a law practice came home to roost last week. In Flint its good to be busy. Thank you to those who have offered leads and interviews, I will follow up. My wife has given me permission to go to the Chicago Convention of Unite Hereiu. I sense a good a street fight. Credentials and access to leadership will be sought.

I have a lot of material but it is difficult to keep straight who is with Raynor and who is with Wilhelm. Maybe that does not matter. What is important to me is the Union struggle to adapt of a large social institution with a half a million members and a half a billion of dollars in assets. This struggle to adapt is being played out in an infinite number of ways from Unions , Wall Street, the White House and your house.

If there is no struggle there is no progress...this struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand.It never did and it never will. Find out what people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them and these will be continued until resisted with either words or blows or both. By Fredrick Douglas.[3]

From: Bruce Raynor, General President

March 5 at 2:59pm ,
Re: Statement on recent judicial decisions on disaffiliation votes by UNITE HERE locals and joint boards [1]

AROUND THE COUNTRY THE LOCALS OR JOINT BOARDS ARE MEETINGThis week, two federal judges have signaled their support for union democracy by allowing several UNITE HERE joint boards and locals representing more than 150,000 workers throughout the U.S. and Canada to hold votes of rank and file leaders on the question of whether or not to disaffiliate with our international union. [1]

Raynor is UNITE has the money and the locals, Wilhelm is HERE and has the membership numbers and the joint boards. HERE is spending UNITES money. UNITE did not do a good job of protecting themselves in the merger. All are break offs from the AFL-CIO.Raynor stands to be tossed out at the Chigago Convention because he does not have the votes. Can you imagine that.

President Wilhelm tried to restrain the Joint Boards from voting and threatened them with losing their charters for even allowing votes on disaffiliation. One federal judge refused to block the voting and after questioning from another federal judge, the HERE faction agreed not to attempt to revoke the charters of Joint Boards that held votes. [1]

This week Mr. Wilhelm claimed that the Chicago Midwest Joint Board had admitted intentional wrongdoing in its attempts to represent Local 24 workers. I strongly dispute his assessment of the actions taken by the Joint Board. The truth is that the Joint Board's new state director sent letters to employers instructing that Local 24 representatives should be dealt with in contract administration and dues collection WHILE the case of who should represent the workers makes its way through court. The Joint Board sent these letters because many employers were trying to use the internal conflict as an excuse to ignore the workers' union altogether.[2]

As I said earlier this week, the merger that created UNITE HERE needs to come to an end, and I still hope that we can forge a path to the future based on a set of negotiations that works out what is best for all of our members. But clearly many of our local leaders have no faith that is possible. [1]

Mr. Wilhelm's characterizing a "major push back" from members of Local 24 is misleading, if not dishonest. There has been no vote yet of Local 24 members to decide their own destiny. I, as many other members, welcomed the presence of the Joint Board. It has been proven that 24 is a local in crisis; we struggled with no representation in contract negotiations or enforcement and I personally never got phone calls returned. Stories about workers paying for insurance they didn't receive (Metropolitan Hotel), about getting cussed out by reps in front of bosses (Sinbad's Restaurant), reps on the take from bosses (Riverside Hotel), contracts being settled with no worker participation (multiple), about white salts running against Black members for elected leadership positions and long-term members being disenfranchised from local elections (casino and airport divisions) show that there are deep problems in Local 24. [2]

Riverside Hotel Democratic Party protest confronting the Union guy standing with management, Daughtery caught on my video.

Joint Board staff did not attempt to shut elected officers and stewards out of the union offices when Joe Daugherty was removed from appointed position as State Director. All staff were expected to stay and continue their work in the Local. No members who conducted themselves with respect were excluded from the office. Daugherty and his Vegas back-ups chose to polarize the situation by rushing the office, boxing up and even shredding files. Their goal was to have us all prohibited from doing the peoples' work. They told workers they had to "choose a side" and that they wouldn't be represented by 24 if they met with folks sent from Chicago. [2]

Workers in Detroit need a union that works better than Local 24 has, now more than ever. I encourage people to look at the videos below and take with a grain of salt Mr Wilhelm's portrayal of the situation here...Earnest Lemond, Local 24 President, Airport Division [2]

After review by two federal courts, workers can now take matters into their own hands and are gathering this Saturday in union halls and meeting rooms around the U.S. and Canada to have a frank and difficult debate about the future of their union. I await the results of those votes, and I will follow in the direction they lead.[1]

"We will make you proud of us brothers and sisters if you will give us a hand we need. Help us make our country better and more wholesome. Pull us out of our slough of despond. Teach arrogant grinders of the faces of the poor that there still is a God in Israel and if need be a Jehovah - a God of battles. Do this and on the last great day you will stand as we hope to stand before the great white throne like gentlemen unafraid." Statement from the Pullman Strike. June 15,1884.[3]

Posted Here By Terry Bankert 3/8/09
Consider continuing this discussion on my Face Book

My radio show today is on alimony.

[1] From a Friend, unverified but looks real to me.
Forwarded to Bankert by, From: "Ed Vargas" Date: Fri, 6 Mar 2009 14:05:48 -0500,To: Bruce Raynor; John W. WilhelmSubject: A memo from the President, Local 24, Airport Division
Howard Zinn, Anthony Arnove, "Voices of a People History of the United States, Seven Stories Press NY 2004.

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