Unite Here Returns to AFL-CIO After Helping Form Change to Win

Posted September 17, 2009 at 12:32pm

The labor union Unite Here rejoined the AFL-CIO on Thursday, re-affiliating with the federation it left four years ago to form a rival coalition. The return of Unite Here to the federation marks a major victory for new AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who replaced John Sweeney on Wednesday.In a statement released by the AFL-CIO, Unite Here officials said they were returning to the federation in the name of labor solidarity.Unite Here represents 265,000 hotel and restaurant workers and has been embroiled in a bitter spat with the Service Employees International Union in recent months over allegations of member poaching. Unite Here, SEIU, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and three other unions formed Change to Win following their high-profile departure from the AFL-CIO in 2005. In a statement, Change to Win Executive Director Chris Chafe downplayed Unite Here’s departure and appeared to stoke internal divisions within its former coalition member, which formed five years ago when the unions Unite and HERE combined. “Unite Here has been an important partner with the other unions of [Change to Win] and was one of the founding six [Change to Win] unions,— Chafe said. “Issues and divisions arising in the merger of Unite and HERE, however, remain unresolved. We hope for a fair resolution of those issues based on our shared values.—