chapter  7
Schumpeterian Unionism and ‘High-Road’ Dreams in Toronto’s Hospitality Sector
BySteven Tufts
Pages 16

North American labour unions continue to struggle against neoliberal capital and states (Panitch and Swartz 2003, Fantasia and Voss 2004). Much normative discussion has focused on the change in structures and strategies necessary for organized labour to renew itself and increase union power. In the US, the formation of the Change to Win (CTW) coalition of unions which broke away from the AFLCIO in 2005 was, on the surface at least, a response to significant political and strategic differences over how to organize workers (see Fletcher Jr and Gapasin 2008 for a critique of CTW). The innovative multi-scalar strategies developed by UNITEHERE, a CTW union formed through an uneasy merger of textile (UNITE) and hotel (HERE) workers in 2004, to organize the hotel workers in Canada and the United States have been widely cited as exemplars of union renewal (Tufts 2007, Schenk 2005, Gray 2004, Wills 2002, Moody 2007). Yet, this renewed hotel workers’ union has a past and present rife with contradiction. For example, the union has a long history of affiliation with organized crime throughout North America and was under US Supreme Court Monitorship until the late 1990s with many corrupt locals under trusteeship. More recently, the union continues to support Republican candidates in the US, especially in gaming states, and large scale development projects such as the Olympics which provide jobs for union members as they displace the poor (Tufts 2004).