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Unite Here board votes to split from Change to Win and rejoin AFL-CIO

March 14, 2009|Evelyn Larrubia

The board of labor union Unite Here voted Friday to bolt from union federation Change to Win, which Unite Here helped found in 2005, and to rejoin the AFL-CIO.

The Unite Here board accused the giant Service Employees International Union, another Change to Win member, of interfering in Unite Here's internal affairs.

Representatives of laundry and garment workers who are members of Unite Here are seeking to separate from the rest of the union, which represents hospitality workers. That would undo the 2004 merger that created Unite Here.

Andy Stern, president of the SEIU, has invited the laundry and garment workers to join his union. But SEIU officials deny any interference, saying they had also invited Unite Here's hospitality division to join the union.

"We've been clear that we respect their decision-making process," said SEIU spokeswoman Michelle Ringuette.

Change to Win officials declined to comment.

Unite Here, the SEIU and five other international unions formed Change to Win when they left the AFL-CIO, citing what they described as a lack of commitment by the older group to organize new members.

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evelyn.larrubia@latimes.com

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