New Orleans Union Membership Set to Double After Hotel and Casino Workers Win

Kevin Solari

The Big Easy just saw a big bump in union membership. (vxla / Flickr)

The num­ber of union mem­bers in New Orleans’s tourism indus­try is set to dou­ble. The hos­pi­tal­i­ty and gam­ing union Unite Here and Team­sters Local 270 are in con­tract nego­ti­a­tions with Harrah’s Hotel and Casi­no after win­ning a card check elec­tion among 900 hotel and food workers.

Accord­ing to the Times-Picayune:

The local Team­sters Union will rep­re­sent the 150 or so employ­ees who work the front of the hotel, bell­men, valets and front desk work­ers, as well as those in the hotel’s ware­house. Unite Here … will rep­re­sent the remain­ing 750 employ­ees, who work in house­keep­ing and food service.

About 70 per­cent of eli­gi­ble employ­ees expressed inter­est in union rep­re­sen­ta­tion dur­ing a for­mal card check held in March, giv­ing the unions legal author­i­ty to begin nego­ti­a­tions, said Scott Coop­er, direc­tor and sec­re­tary-trea­sur­er of Unite Here’s New Orleans local. 

With 70,000 tourism relat­ed jobs in the New Orleans area, and tourism account­ing for almost $6.5 bil­lion of New Orleans’ econ­o­my, unions have ample oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand in New Orleans. Unite Here cur­rent­ly has only three con­tracts in the city.

The decades-old strug­gle for labor unions in the South has been rein­vig­o­rat­ed in recent years. The North Car­oli­na State AFL-CIO has said the labor needs to orga­nize the South or die.” Oth­ers have called for a Sec­ond Oper­a­tion Dix­ie, ref­er­enc­ing the CIO’s failed mis­sion in the late for­ties and ear­ly fifties to union­ize the old Confederacy. 

Con­ser­v­a­tive resis­tance runs deep, how­ev­er. Ear­li­er this year, the Unites Auto Work­ers lost a bid to orga­nize the Volk­swa­gen plant in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee by a slim mar­gin. When com­ment­ing on the defeat, South Car­oli­na Gov­er­nor and Tea Par­ty favorite Nik­ki Haley said she dis­cour­ages any com­pa­nies that have unions from want­i­ng to come to South Car­oli­na because we don’t want to taint the water.”

Kevin is an edu­ca­tor and free­lance writer in Chica­go. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @kevinsolari_.
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