For the union into which HERE merged, see Unite Here.
Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) is a defunct union that represented workers in the hospitality industry. In 2004 HERE merged with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees (UNITE) to form Unite Here.
HERE possessed extensive ties with the Democratic Party and supported a variety of Democratic political candidates to create a more favorable climate for unionization. The union was extensively associated with organized crime from at least the enactment of Prohibition in 1919 until the late 1990s.
While waiters in Chicago are known to have unionized as early as 1866, and by 1880 several such unions had joined the Knights of Labor, the establishment of a national union for workers in the hospitality industry did not come from the banding individual small unions. The national hospitality union was the brainchild of the predecessor to the modern AFL-CIO, the centralized American Federation of Labor (AFL). The AFL organized the Waiters and Bartenders National Union in 1891 that would later be known as HERE.
After the enactment of Prohibition in 1920, HERE lost substantial membership and became involved with organized crime. In 1973, the controversial Ed Hanley took the helm of HERE. His tenure would be marked by allegations that he aligned the union with organized crime while Hanley enjoyed high salaries and perks including the use of a $2.5 million private jet.
In 1986, a Department of Justice commission on organized crime and racketeering named HERE among the most corrupt unions in the United States because of its highly centralized locals and affiliation with organized crime.
In 1998, Hanley left union leadership as part of a deal with federal investigators who had identified financial misconduct. A federal monitor “found that Mr. Hanley had bought a union-leased Cadillac Allante sports coupe, worth at least $60,000, at an improperly low price. The monitor also found that Mr. Hanley had received $31,000 from the union’s Chicago local even though he did no work for that local, which was run by one of his sons.” The monitor also alleged that Hanley had “set up a fake union local near his Wisconsin vacation home so that the local’s president could do favors for Mr. Hanley and his friends.” Hanley formally maintained his innocence.
Hanley was replaced by John W. Wilhelm, a former Students for a Democratic Society activist and long-time union organizer, who would later join with UNITE president Bruce Raynor to merge their unions into Unite Here. The merger ultimately failed; Raynor-allied unions left Unite Here to form Workers United SEIU, while Wilhelm ascended to lead the rump Unite Here, which principally consisted of the former HERE unions.
In addition to major federal investigations into possible mob influence in HERE, local HERE officials were subject to criminal investigations for embezzlement of union funds and skirting transparency regulations established under the Landrum-Griffin Act.
In September of 2002 Karl Roush, a former business manager of Local 497 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE) was arraigned for embezzlement of union funds. Roush later pled guilty to those charges. In October of 2002 Michelle Back, former office secretary of Local 12 of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, was indicted on one count of theft of union funds and one count of tampering with records. Back later pled guilty to those charges.
In January of 2003 Anthony Rutledge, former financial secretary and treasurer of Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 5, pled not guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and one count of aiding and assisting in filing a false income tax return.
John Wilhelm was the president of HERE and later president of Unite Here. His salary in 2003, paid for through union dues, was $308,807. Wilhelm began working for HERE soon after graduating from college in 1969.