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Service Employees International Union

Service Employees International Union (SEIU), labor union representing U.S. and Canadian workers in health care (doctors, nurses, health technicians), public services (government workers, school employees), building services (janitors, elevator operators, security officers) and other areas. Founded in Chicago in 1921 as the Building Service Employees International Union to represent largely immigrant janitors, it expanded during the 1930s to include hospital workers and public employees and was renamed in 1968. By the early 21st cent. the SEIU had more than 1.8 million active members, and was the largest and most rapidly growing union in North America. With headquarters in Washington, D.C., the SEIU has more than 300 local affiliates and 25 state councils. From 1980 to 1995 its president was John J. Sweeney, who left to head the AFL-CIO. In 1996 he was succeeded by Andrew Stern, who nine years later led the SEIU to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO and, with several other unions, form the Change to Win Federation. In 2009 Workers United, a union descended from the former International Ladies Garment Workers Union, formally affiliated with the SEIU. Mary Kay Henry succeeded Stern as president in 2010.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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