Workers United Members March on Toronto Hotel Union Office

    Say UNITE HERE's campaign against their union is hurting low-waged

    TORONTO, May 14 /CNW/ - Members of the union Workers United today marched
on the downtown headquarters of the Toronto Hotel union, UNITE HERE, calling
on that union to end its campaign against their union. Paul Clifford,
President of UNITE HERE Local 75, recently launched a law suit against Workers
United, claiming all the assets of that union, built by generations of
low-waged garment workers.
    James Dean, President of the Workers United Ontario Council and a member
of the union for forty-two years, lashed out at Clifford for hurting workers
like him.
    "No lawsuit or lawyers' letters can take my union from me," said Dean, an
apparel worker from Hamilton, Ontario. "I've been a union member since
Clifford was a kid and for generations, garment workers like me saved our
pennies and built this union. Now, UNITE HERE is hurting those same workers,
sending lawyers' letters to our employers, telling them not to recognize our
union and keep our dues."
    The Workers United Ontario Council voted to end their affiliation with
UNITE HERE in March, 2009, signing an agreement with UNITE HERE to split the
union in Ontario. In a direct violation of that agreement, UNITE HERE began a
campaign against Workers United on May 1st, trying to take the union's
bargaining rights from the members who voted to leave. The lawsuit, filed by
Clifford on May 7th, lays claims to all the assets of the previous garment
workers union, including a building owned by an International Ladies Garment
Workers' benefit plan in Manitoba.
    In the United States, the failure of the 2004 UNITE HERE merger has
resulted in an acrimonious, internal union "civil war" that threatens to
consume the American labour movement.
    "I don't know why UNITE HERE is bringing this horrible fight to Canada,"
said Valerie Gaynor, President of Workers United Local 2742. "They are
spending members' money on lawyers' letters and lawsuits and the ones who are
being hurt are low-waged foodservice workers like me. I pay union dues and my
employer is keeping them on UNITE HERE's instruction."
    The Workers United Ontario Council is made up of all the former members
of UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) in Ontario
as well as former members of HERE (Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees) who
voted unanimously to join Workers United when the UNITE HERE merger failed.
    "The members decided to leave UNITE HERE and form Workers United," said
Dean. "It was our vote and this is our union. We've fought sweatshops to build
our union and if we have to fight UNITE HERE to represent our members in these
tough economic times, than so be it but it is a shame. They need to stop this

For further information:

For further information: Wynne Hartviksen at (416) 473-2632

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