Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bruce Raynor

Image may contain: one or more people and people standingA native of New York, Bruce Raynor was raised in a blue-collar family, the son of a truck driver and a retail worker. In 1972, Raynor graduated from Cornell's School of Industrial and Labor Relations after years of student activism and involvement in the civil rights movement. (He gave up a biochemistry scholarship to work in labor organizing.) The following year, he began working for the Textile Workers Union of America, helping coordinate their seventeen-year battle against North Carolina textile magnate JP Stevens. Following the success of this campaign, he organized in several other Southern states, including Mississippi, and was elected as the leader of the 50,000-member union.

Raynor served as the second president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees, or UNITE, a consolidation of two older unions. In 2004, it merged with the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) to become UNITE HERE. However, after what Raynor called a "hostile takeover" of power by other union officials, whom he accused of diverting funds to their favorite locals, the two split up again, with Raynor becoming president of a new group called Workers United.

He also oversees the Sidney Hillman Foundation, named for the founder of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (one of the unions that comprised UNITE), which rewards journalists who cover social justice issues as well as previously serving as chairman of the Amalgamated Bank, the only union-owned institution in America.

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