Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union Local 24 Records

Accession Number: 
14.5 linear feet (12 SB, 2 MB, 1 OS)

A Detroit-area labor union, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union (HERE) Local 24 represented people in the service industry from 1916 until 2004 when it became an affiliate for the organization UNITE HERE. The union started modestly in 1916 when a small group of waiters successfully applied for a charter in the AFL-affiliated Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union (also known as HERE, Hotel & Restaurant Employees, along with the Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Workers) and were given the title Local 705. Local 705 endured a tumultuous early history, due to the effects of the Prohibition Era and then the Great Depression. This lasted until the mid-1930s when the union expanded beyond wait staff and bartenders. Between 1937 and 1947, bellmen, doormen, maids, and other hospitality workers helped swell membership from 500 to 11,000. The larger numbers allowed the union to campaign for civil rights in local businesses, notably desegregating wait staff at the Detroit Athletic Club in 1941 and combating sexist policies at the Playboy Club in the 1960s. Myra Wolfgang, former Chief Executive officer of Local 24 and Vice-President of the International Union, came to represent the union’s continued stance for social inclusion in the workplace. Her outspoken and militant push for women’s equality in the service industry made her a national figure and the iconic leader in the local union’s long history. By 1973, Local 705 transformed into HERE Local 24. In 2004, HERE merged with the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees to form UNITE HERE, altering the Detroit union’s name to UNITE HERE Local 24. UNITE HERE Local 24 now represents thousands of employees in Metro Detroit’s hospitality sector.

The Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union Local 24 Records are comprised of materials from Local 24 and its various incarnations in addition to items regarding affiliated unions. The collection is divided into two series, Organizational Records and Publication Materials, and Audiovisual and Oversize Materials. The membership ledgers and books listing members and dues payments make up the oldest and largest section of the organizational records. Also of note are the meeting minutes from various councils within the HERE chapter and original artwork from their Hotel-Bar-Restaurant Review newspaper

The audiovisual series primarily contains photographic stills. Common topics depicted in the photos are the annual Waiters and Waitresses Race, the Bartenders Mixed Drink Competition, HERE annual conventions, local meetings, union elections, strikes of area businesses, Hotel-Bar-Restaurant Review photographs, and executives Louis Koenig and Myra Wolfgang. Other notable subjects include a prison release party for Jimmy Hoffa and demonstrations against the local Playboy Club. The audiovisual series also contains photographic negatives of many of the stills as well as several artifacts. Oversize materials include larger original artwork from the Hotel-Bar-Restaurant Review, panoramic photographs, and a commemorative scrapbook.

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