“My Union, UNITE HERE, is leading the way in showing people how we fight back in a strategic way, a relentless way, a way that unifies all of us who love this country, and who love this planet, and who care about the lives of ordinary people. That’s what we do.”
Since 2005, Cleve Jones has been a Community and Political Coordinator with UNITE HERE, a labor union that represents 270,000 working people across Canada and the United States in the hotel, gaming, food service, manufacturing, textile, distribution, laundry, transportation, and airport industries.
UNITE HERE’s diverse membership is made up of predominantly women and people of color, hailing from all corners of the planet. Through real grassroots organizing, UNITE HERE has mobilized African Americans in the fight for immigrant rights; Latino workers for marriage equality; white, working class men to campaign against the bully Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Committed to full equality for all working people, UNITE HERE was the was the first Union to ratify a comprehensive statement in support of civil and economic rights for LGBT people, and contributed significant funds and organizing resources to defeating Proposition 8 in California.
“The fight for livable wages, access to affordable health care and rights at work gives us common cause – regardless of our race or gender, creed or orientation. It is essential for all of us to embrace the notion that when we rise and unite, we win.”
Through his partnership with UNITE HERE, Cleve has led LGBTQ and labor coalitions in taking on some of the toughest corporations in the hospitality industry. He has also worked to make the labor movement more inclusive of LGBTQ workers via the insertion of LGBTQ safeguards in union contracts to protect workers from workplace discrimination. These protections can be enforced even in places where no such protections exist in the law.
“At UNITE HERE, we refuse to be divided… gay from straight, black from white, male from female, immigrant from native-born. We are in this fight together. And we are relentless. Sometimes it takes years… sometimes it takes decades. But we never give up until we win.”