WASHINGTON — Workers United, the main U.S. apparel and textile union, has elected Noel Beasley to succeed embattled president Bruce Raynor, who announced his resignation last month amid charges of misusing his expense account.
Beasley, who has served as director of Workers United’s Chicago and Midwest Regional Joint Board and executive vice president of Workers United, remains a vice president of the Service Employees International Union, of which the union is an affiliate.
“This is an extremely difficult period of transition for the global trade union movement, and the problems that our International Union must confront are complicated,” Beasley said. “But these problems are in many ways reflections of the hard times that now assault our members, their families and communities. We must move from defense to offense. We must reclaim North America for working families and stop the attempts to roll back virtually every hard-fought victory of the 20th century.”
Raynor, who officially stepped down on Saturday, had been president of Workers United and its two predecessor unions, UNITE HERE and UNITE, for the last decade. He will continue to serve as chairman of several union-affiliated national pension and insurance funds, including Amalgamated Life Insurance Co., remains on the board of the Amalgamated Bank and will continue as president of The Sidney Hillman Foundation, which supports and rewards socially conscious journalism.
Workers United is said to have 150,000 members in the U.S. and Canada, who work in the laundry, food service, hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile, manufacturing and distribution industries.
Beasley was one of the union leaders involved in helping save Chicago-based Hartmarx, the largest men’s wear apparel manufacturer in the U.S., which filed for bankruptcy protection after U.S. banks cut off its lines of credit. Workers United successfully waged sit-ins and demonstrations to demand that the banks restructure the company’s debt to save some 3,500 jobs in the U.S. and Canada.
Beasley was also involved in the campaign to save the Hugo Boss plant in Cleveland, which employed 400 workers last year but was planning to shut down and move production offshore. The union takes credit for pressuring Hugo Boss to keep the plant open.
“We know how to win for working families,” Beasley said. “I look forward to working with all of our members to continue to add to our record of victories.”