Taylor formally elected president of UNITE HERE November 29, 2012 at 3:22 pm Howard Stutz, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL Culinary Local 226 leader D. Taylor was formally elected president of UNITE HERE on Thursday, a month after the expected change in the 250,000-member international organization was announced. Taylor, 55, will give up his role as secretary-treasurer of the 60,000-member Culinary, the largest UNITE HERE affiliate. Secretary-treasurer is the top position in the local’s hierarchy. A replacement has not been named. During a general executive board meeting of UNITE HERE in Chicago, members elected Taylor to replace John Wilhelm, the organization’s president since 2009 who announced his planned retirement last month. “This is a tremendous honor, and a huge challenge,” Taylor said in a statement. “Our job is to fundamentally change the fate of workers in our industries. I’m optimistic that we can do that, but it’s going to require taking some real risks.” UNITE HERE, headquartered in New York City, represents workers throughout the U.S. and Canada who are employed in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, and airport industries. Taylor is a UNITE HERE general officer, serving as general vice president and gaming division director for North America. He will serve as president until the 2014 national convention. Taylor became secretary-treasurer of the Culinary in 2002 but has been at the forefront of the Strip’s labor movement for more than 25 years. He was working for the union’s national offices in Washington, D.C., when he came to Las Vegas in 1986 on a six-month “temporary assignment.” He eventually became staff director of the Culinary and a chief lieutenant to secretary-treasurer Jim Arnold. He took over after Arnold stepped down for health reasons. Taylor, a 1980 graduate of Georgetown University, worked in a variety of positions for the national union starting in 1981. Taylor largely kept labor peace on the Strip during his years as secretary-treasurer, but the union had a heavy influence on local elections, predominately for Democrats. The union’s voter registration and turnout operations contributed much to party’s successes. Taylor will still lead the Culinary’s citywide contract negotiations next year. Wilhelm has also been a fixture in the Las Vegas labor movement. He played a key role on behalf of the union negotiating contracts with Strip resorts from 1987 to 1998. Wilhelm is stepping down after 43 years with the organization, including the past 15 as national president. He was president of HERE’s hospitality division and general president when HERE merged with UNITE in 2004. Wilhelm will remain in several roles with UNITE HERE, including working as a trustee for the union’s benefit and health and welfare funds. “I am grateful beyond measure for the privilege of serving as this union’s president,” Wilhelm said in a statement. “We are blessed with terrific leadership, and it’s time for a new generation to lead us into the future. D. will be a superb leader for our union.” Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.