Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 299–303 | Cite as

Union Mergers; Some Questions Raised by a “Disorderly Breakup”

  • Gary Chaison


This essay discusses the 2004 merger between UNITE, a clothing workers’ union, and HERE, the hotel and restaurant workers union. Many labor scholars and union proponents believed that this merger would revive a dormant US labor movement and lead to great success in union organizing. Although much was expected, there was very little accomplished by this merger. While union mergers can either be amalgamations or absorptions, the UNITE-HERE merger took the former form. Although successful amalgamations usually occur when the two unions share a common jurisdiction, additional problems occur when the unions are dissimilar in size and type of members. The UNITE-HERE merger displayed none of these three above-mentioned characteristics. This essay also discusses issues of the centralization/decentralization of union mergers, the negotiation and promotion of such combinations, local union and national union mergers while concluding with a discussion of whether union mergers are an appropriate strategy for dealing with a struggling US labor movement early in the twenty-first century.


Union mergers UNITE/HERE Union structure UNITE HERE 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The Author declares that he has no conflicts of interest. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author. There were no individual participants in this study and, thus, informed consent does not apply to this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emeritus Professor of Industrial RelationsClark UniversityWorcesterUSA

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