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Transcript of interview with John Wilhelm by Claytee White, August 12, 2014







John Wilhelm, past president of UNITE HERE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees and Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union), settles in at Union headquarters in Las Vegas and recalls highlights from his forty years as a union leader and organizer. After sharing his discontent with his freshman year at Earlham College and Midwestern Quakers, he reveals the curious manner in which Yale University accepted him, how he became a community organizer, and, following graduation, the way he began his union career and his efforts to organize the workers at Yale. He expresses gratitude to his mother for her insistence that he get a good education and to Betsy, his wife of forty-five years, for her unfailing support of his work and the union cause. He also discloses the reasons he commutes between Las Vegas and Santa Barbara, California. After explaining the history of the union in hospitality he speaks to the fluidity of problems with race, gender, and labor with the corporatization of the hospitality industry. He highlights union issues, strikes, and campaigns: arrests, card check, guaranteed work week, Union Again, and Walk and Work. He talks of negotiations with Las Vegas owners or managers like the Binion family, Bill Boyd, the Elardi family, Jackie and Michael Gaughan, Terry Lanni, Bob Maxey, and Steve Wynn. Mostly, he fondly remembers stories of and contributions by union leaders Geoconda Arguello, Jim Arnold, Joe Duarte, Edward T. Hanley, Ardella Roberts, Phil Schloop, Vincent Sirabella, Myra Wolfgang, and Steve Yokich of United Auto Workers. Throughout, his stories involve D. Taylor, who followed Wilhelm as president in 2012. Although he stepped down from the presidency, he continues to work on pension and healthcare issues.

Digital ID



John Wilhelm oral history interview, 2014 August 12 and 2014 August 27. OH-02150. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN WILHELM An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas