John Wilhelm, one of the most powerful individuals in the gaming industry, is stepping down from his position at president of UNITE HERE, the culinary and service workers union representing thousands of casino employees. Wilhelm started his union career in Connecticut in the early ’80s where he organized workers associated with Yale University. The organization, the Federation of University Employees, later became Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International and today is UNITE HERE.
He moved to Las Vegas to run Local 226 of HERE in the heyday of the development of the mega-resorts. In many ways, those resorts would never have been built if not for the decades of labor peace brokered by Wilhelm and the casino executives.
He has been president of UNITE HERE for 15 years. He will stepped in November. He will retain several positions with the union, including serving as a trustee for the union’s benefit and health and welfare funds.
Wilhelm recommended the current leader of the Las Vegas local, D Taylor (above), as his successor. The union’s executive board will vote on Taylor’s nomination at a board meeting in Chicago in late November.
Taylor has spent 25 years in Las Vegas assisting Wilhelm and later leading the organization. While labor peace has reigned over most of Las Vegas, Local 226 has waged a war of attrition with locals operator Station Casinos for many years.
Taylor has also been very active in Democrat politics in Nevada, helping to win the state for Barack Obama in 2008, and should be a big reason that the president won the state again this year.