Peter Dreier’s article on the contested representation dispute between two rival unions, both claiming to represent hotel, food service, and gaming workers nationwide, while quite lengthy, leaves out several material facts relevant to the dispute.
First, Dreier’s article fails to capture the fact that there have been eleven cases brought so far before regional directors of the National Labor Relations Board, all of which have been decided in favor of our union, Workers United. In addition to the eleven Regional Directors’ decisions, there have also been five decisions issued by the full Labor Board in Washington, DC, dismissing appeals brought before it by UNITE HERE. The clear trend of these decisions indicates that the Labor Board, both regionally and nationally, recognizes our position that we, as local Workers United affiliates, are the rightful representative of workers in Philadelphia, the United States and Canada. Balanced, responsible reporting would not have neglected the clear, and undeniable, consensus of these findings.
Second, Dreier’s article fails to capture that workers are being hurt, particularly those working in Philadelphia, who have been misinformed and misled, and have been furthermore subjected to harassment, intimidation and invasions of their personal privacy, both at work and at home, by UNITE HERE organizers. As if that were not enough, their employers, feeling empowered by UNITE HERE’s competing, yet unsubstantiated, representational claims, have used the dispute as an excuse to violate their employees' rights by refusing to bargain and process grievances, and by denying representation by union staff members. Honest and socially conscious reporting would not have ignored the harmful impact that UNITE HERE’s misinformation and smear campaign against Workers United, both nationally and locally, have had on workers and their families.
Third, while Dreier is correct in accusing UNITE HERE of attacking Workers United and raiding members of our local affiliates, the notion--as Dreier puts it--that UNITE HERE did so only in retaliation is flatly wrong. The reality is our members, who felt as though they were under-represented by the former HERE union (which John Wilhelm, former HERE President, admits), voted to be represented by the Philadelphia Joint Board, and also in favor of our disaffiliation from UNITE HERE and subsequent affiliation with Workers United. Our members have made a clear and unambiguous decision, which, apparently, UNITE HERE has chosen to ignore, instead resorting to harassment, intimidation and bullying to gain control of the nearly 9,000 members we represent in the Philadelphia area. In Philadelphia, UNITE HERE initiated the attack. Fair and unbiased reporting would have uncovered this detail.
Peter Dreier and The Nation should concentrate on reporting all of the facts, rather than simply focusing on those that support the story he/they are spinning.