History

SEIU has been fighting for workers for 90 years.

For generations, public service workers have played a critical role in the lives of every American. And for more than four decades, public service workers have united through SEIU to keep critical services and good jobs in their communities.

From public school bus drivers who drive thousands of children to school safely each morning, to social workers who counsel struggling youth, home care workers who ensure that senior citizens can remain independent, and nurses that care for sick patients – SEIU members are a leading force behind building good, strong, safe communities.

In 1965, just a few years after public service workers first started uniting through SEIU, they represented nearly half of the union’s 375,000 members. Today, over 1 million of SEIU’s 2.2 million members work in the public sector, continuing the commitment to raise the standards for public service workers across the United States.

Over the past decade, SEIU’s Public Services Division has focused organizing efforts for public workers on solution-oriented partnerships between labor and management – and they’ve won, time and again, for both workers and communities. With SEIU’s commitment to organizing in the South and Southwest has come an important opportunity to give workers in these states a voice on the job and re-imagine how critical services can efficiently be delivered in communities.

At the heart of this effort is the notion that workers on the frontline have some of the best and most innovative ideas to make public services better and more efficient.

Despite victories for tens of thousands of public workers, anti-worker governors in states like Wisconsin and Ohio have launched an attack on the middle class, attempting to blame hardworking union members for the budget crises facing their states. Despite relentless attacks, public workers, faith leaders, students and their allies have stood up and spoke out in Madison, Columbus and elsewhere – demanding that corporations pay their fair share and insisting that we solve budget crises through shared sacrifice.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. In states across the country, public workers have
demanded to be a part of the solution – and have been able to do so through the voice of their union. In 2006, members of Colorado WINS delivered newly-elected Governor Bill Ritter a list of 1,000 ways to improve state government – and he listened, and implemented many of the suggestions. Earlier this year, members of SEIU Local 503 commissioned a report to identify ways to raise revenue and protect critical services. Their innovation was lauded by politicians of both parties, while the governor of Oregon and the Senate president thanked the union for taking the lead in solving the state’s revenue crisis.

But the victories don’t end in Colorado and Oregon. From Texas to Massachusetts, New York to Arizona and Illinois to North Carolina, tens of thousands of public workers have united through SEIU to ensure that critical services stay in our communities.

Across the country, SEIU members are leading the conversation to build a strong, innovative public sector that is an important partner in solving the budget shortfalls facing our
communities.

Click here to find out more about how our history has helped the cause of human rights and workers everywhere.

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