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Regional Joint Board of UNITE HERE Attempts to Seize Control of Detroit's Local 24
of UNITE HERE Which Represents 7,500 Casino, Hotel
and Foodservice Workers in Detroit
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DETROIT - January 13, 2009 - Last week, the Chicago & Midwest Regional Joint Board of UNITE HERE attempted to seize control of Local 24 in Detroit, physically removing Local 24 officers who had been recently elected by Detroit workers, and disrupting member servicing. The takeover escalated into an assault on local union official Joe Daugherty early Saturday morning. 

On Monday January 5, the Chicago & Midwest Joint Board removed Local 24 Chairman Joe Daugherty, who successfully led the epic 6-year Frontier Casino strike in Las Vegas, as the State Director of Michigan. The Chicago group abruptly installed New York union official Clayola Brown, who has little experience organizing hospitality workers, as the new State Director. 

Local 24 members and officers decried the move, calling it an “attack on union democracy” and an “outrageous power grab.” Chanel Black, who has worked at MGM casino in stewarding for 7 years, said “This Chicago group is trying to steal our union. But they can’t steal our union: we are the union. I am the union, because I want a better life for my son Joshua. We work hard, and we deserve good jobs and good benefits. These outsiders don’t care about us, or our pay. They just want to get their hands on our dues money.” 

The Chicago & Midwest Joint Board escalated its attack Friday, when Local 24 officers, elected less than two months ago, were denied access to the Local 24 office. Joint Board officials physically intimidated Local 24 officers and staff. They called on building security and Detroit Police to eject all Local 24 officers, members and staff. 

Local 24 Chairman Joe Daugherty, whose name is on the office lease as the head of Local 24, was allowed by police to remain in the office overnight Friday to safeguard Local 24 property. Joint Board representatives intensively harassed Daugherty in the office, even interfering with a phone call to his wife. They kept up the onslaught of harassment by taking shifts overnight to prevent Daugherty from sleeping, and shouted at him through a bullhorn inches away from his ear. Daugherty was taken to a doctor Saturday morning to assess possible hearing damage from the assault. 

Later Saturday morning, Joe Daugherty emerged from the Local 24 office and Detroit Police removed all Joint Board officials from the office. 

The Joint Board has produced no evidence of negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the Local 24 leadership. Local 24 is the largest single local in the financially strapped Chicago Joint Board. The Joint Board spent nearly $11 million more than the $18 million it collected in dues in 2007. 

Tracy Bissell, a server at Chili’s at the airport and a member of Local 24’s election committee, said “We had a democratic election less than two months ago. This is an illegal takeover, and we resent it. We’re going to fight until the bureaucrats get the hell out of Detroit.” 
“It’s a shame, what the Joint Board is doing,” said Fred Harvey, a banquet server at the Marriott with 31 years of experience. “I’m the former President of Local 24’s Hotel Division, and we all worked hard on the recent election. We went out in snow, rain and sleet, knocked on doors, got chased by dogs. Now instead of celebrating our newly elected leaders, we have to fight to protect Local 24 from this illegal takeover.” 

Local 24 of UNITE HERE is made up of over 7,500 casino, hotel, airport and foodservice workers in Detroit. 

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Contact:

For UNITE HERE Local 24
Lars Negstad, 312-446-1766
 

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Also See: South Florida's Leading Hotel Union, Unite Here Local 355, in the Midst of an Internal Corruption Probe Targeting Two Top Organizers / August 2006
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