UNITE HERE Elects New President
November 29, 2012
The governing body of UNITE HERE, the union of hospitality workers in the U.S. and Canada, has elected D. Taylor as its President. John Wilhelm, who had served as the President of UNITE HERE since 2009, retired on November 29 at the meeting of the UNITE HERE General Executive Board. Wilhelm was previously the President of UNITE HERE's Hospitality Division, and before that was the President of HERE, one of the two unions that merged to form UNITE HERE in 2004.
Taylor is the leader of UNITE HERE's largest affiliate, Local 226 in Las Vegas (also called the Culinary Workers' Union). Representing 60,000 workers, Local 226 is widely recognized for leading the transformation of hospitality-industry jobs from low-wage, insecure work to stable, middle-class occupations. The housekeepers, restaurant workers, beverage service workers and bell staff who make up the membership of Local 226 are also recognized as a powerful political force in Nevada and national politics. UNITE HERE was the first international union to endorse Barack Obama for President in 2008, and Local 226 has been credited with leading the transformation of Nevada from a red state to a Democratic stronghold. This year the union again led a major political program, particularly among Latino voters, contributing to President Obama's victory in Nevada.
"I am grateful beyond measure for the privilege of serving as this Union's President," said Wilhelm. "We are blessed with terrific leadership, and it's time for a new generation to lead us into the future. D. will be a superb leader for our Union."
Taylor served as Staff Director of UNITE HERE Local 226 from 1990 to 2002 and Secretary-Treasurer since 2002, and as General Vice President of UNITE HERE since 2009. Upon his election as UNITE HERE's President, he pledged to develop leadership among young people and people of color, and to expand the success of the union in Las Vegas to hospitality workers elsewhere. "This is a tremendous honor, and a huge challenge," he said upon his election. "Our job is to fundamentally change the fate of workers in our industries. I'm optimistic that we can do that, but it's going to require taking some real risks."