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UNITE HERE Leader Resigns

The battle between the rival components of casino culinary labor union UNITE HERE gained intensity last month as Bruce Raynor, the union’s general president, resigned.

Raynor also accused his opponents of breaking into his office and trying to steal sensitive files. He claimed he was forced out of his position and said he will take another top spot with the newly formed Service Employees International Union.

“The situation at UNITE HERE has devolved from sporadic hostile actions to a sustained attack that represents a direct threat to the welfare of our members,” Raynor told the Associated Press. “Our union is in total chaos.”

UNITE HERE represents a number of hospitality workers and casino food and beverage employees in Atlantic City, and is the parent union of the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 in Nevada.

The group was formed five years ago with the merger of the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. An internal power struggle led Raynor to declare the merger a failure last year, at which time 150,000 members voted to leave the union and form a new union called Workers United.

Raynor was going to leave his position later this summer, but said the ongoing problems forced him to move up the date of his departure.

An internal memo that appears to have been taken from Raynor’s office in May says Workers United is losing more than $300,000 a month. Raynor said that John Wilhelm, president of hospitality at UNITE HERE, is trying to create a fight with SEIU.

“The actual fight is between two parts of UNITE HERE because there’s a failed merger,” Raynor said. “The fact is Andy Stern and SEIU play a very minor role in all this.”

In keeping to the high road, Wilhelm issued a terse statement about Raynor’s departure.

“While we recognize the good news of his resignation, we are under no illusion that SEIU and Raynor have given up their quest to steal UNITE HERE’s hotel, gaming and food service jurisdictions,” he said.

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