Service Employees International Union

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Service Employees International Union
SEIU logo.jpg
President:Mary Kay Henry
Year created:1921
Affiliated with:AFL-CIO
Website:Official website
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a labor union representing over 2 million workers in about 100 occupations in the United States and Canada. The main divisions are health care (around 50% of the union's membership), including hospital, home care and nursing home workers, public services (government employees) and property services (including janitors and security officers).

SEIU is based in Washington, D.C., and is structured into seven internal departments: Communications, Education, Human Rights, International Affairs, Organization, Political and Research.

SEIU states its Vision for a Just Society as: "We believe in and will fight for a just society: Where all workers are valued and all people are respected. Where all families and communities thrive. Where we leave a better and more equal world for generations to come."[1]


The SEIU was founded in 1921 in Chicago; its first members were janitors, elevator operators and window washers. Membership increased significantly with a strike in New York City's Garment District in 1934. Formerly known as the Building Service Employees' International Union, it absorbed the International Jewelry Workers Union in 1980 and later the Drug, Hospital, and Health Care Employees Union (Local 1199), Health & Human Services Workers.

In 1995, SEIU President John Sweeney was elected president of the AFL-CIO, the labor federation that serves as an umbrella organization for unions. After Sweeney's departure, former social worker Andrew Stern was elected president of SEIU. In the first ten years of Stern's administration, the union's membership grew rapidly, making SEIU the largest union in the AFL-CIO by 2000.


Mary Kay Henry is the current President of SEIU.[1] Other members of SEIU's leadership include: Mike Fishman (Secretary-Treasurer), Kirk Adams (International Executive Vice President), Gerald Hudson (International Executive Vice President), Eileen Kirlin (International Executive Vice President), Valarie Long (Executive Vice President) and Rocio Saenz (International Executive Vice President)



Campaign contributions are not yet available for the 2014 election cycle.


SEIU contributed $18,202,527 in the 2012 election cycle: $1,818,722 to candidates, $100,000 to leadership PACs, $156,672 to parties, $11,516,999 to 527 committees and $3,359,884 to outside spending groups.[2]

Candidate contributions

CNN report on SEIU's lobbying for Obama's health care proposals

In the 2012 election cycle, SEIU spent a grand total of $1,818,722 on candidate contributions. All but $250 of that money went to Democrats [3]

Top 10 largest SEIU candidate contributions in 2012[3]
Candidate Party State Office Total Desired Result
Barack Obama Democratic Party N/A President $62,366
Ron Barber Democratic Party AZ House $30,250
Suzanne Bonamici Democratic Party OR House $20,500
Christopher Donovan Democratic Party CT House $19,219
Chris Murphy Democratic Party CT House $15,750
Heidi Heitkamp Democratic Party ND Senate $15,000
Tammy Baldwin Democratic Party WI House $14,250
Janice Hahn Democratic Party CA House $12,500
Charles Rangel Democratic Party NY House $12,500
Hakeem Jeffries Democratic Party NY House $12,250

Coakley/Brown campaign

U.S. Senate special election, Massachusetts, 2010

In the last week of the January 2010 contest between Scott P. Brown and Martha Coakley in Massachusetts to fill the seat in the United States Senate made vacant by the death of Ted Kennedy, SEIU took out a television ad buy worth "$685,000, one of the "largest of the election" on behalf of Coakley.[4]

Jeff Denham recall

See also: Jeff Denham recall (2008)

The SEIU spent $450,000 in 2008 in a vain attempt to recall California State Senator Jeff Denham, a Republican they sought to punish because he did not vote for their preferred version of the California state budget that year.[5]

Petition blocking lawsuit

See also: Petition blocking

On October 30, 2007, Ralph Nader named SEIU as a co-defendant in Nader v. DNC. In the ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit, 2004 Reform Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader accused the Democratic National Committee of "groundless and abusive litigation" to bankrupt Ralph Nader's campaign and force him off the ballot in 18 states.[6]

California legislature

See also: California State Council of Service Employees

The California State Council of Service Employees, an SEIU affiliate, was one of the top 5 donors of over 40 of the 50 Democratic members of the California State Assembly in the elections of 2008, in most cases giving the maximum legally-allowable donation of $14,400.

Ballot measure activism

SEIU affiliates are significant donors to political committees that both oppose and support ballot measures in states throughout the country.


Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Congressional Redistricting (Florida) Approveda $225,000
Legislative Redistricting (Florida) Approveda $225,000


Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Proposition 1A (California) $16 billion tax increase, spending caps Defeatedd $1.3 million Defeatedd
Question 4 (Maine) Tax relief proposal Defeatedd $100,000 Defeatedd
Initiative 1033 (Washington) Property tax limits Defeatedd $297,500 Defeatedd


See also: 2008 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Proposition 98 (California) Protect homes from government seizure Defeatedd $900,000 Defeatedd
Proposition 93 (California) Softening of Term limits Approveda $100,000 Defeatedd
Amendment 47 (Colorado) Right to work Defeatedd $2.45 million Defeatedd
Proposition B (Missouri) Health care unions for home workers Approveda $936,000 Approveda
Measures 58, 58 (Oregon) English immersion, state income tax deductions Defeatedd $1.2 million Defeatedd
Initiative 1029 (Washington) Training for health care workers Approveda $955,000 Approveda


See also: 2007 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Measure 50 (Oregon) Cigarette tax hike Approveda $142,460 Defeatedd
Initiative 960 (Washington) Limits on taxes Defeatedd Approveda


See also: 2006 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Proposition 202 (Arizona) Minimum wage increase Approveda $615,976 Approveda
Proposition 82 (California) Free half-day of pre-school for 4-year-olds Approveda $1.5 million Defeatedd
Amendment 42 (Colorado) Minimum wage increase Approveda $21,375 Approveda
Amendment 43 (Colorado) Definition of marriage Defeatedd $150,000 Approveda
Proposition B (Missouri) Minimum wage increase Approveda $210,000 Approveda
Measures 41 and 48 (Oregon) Income tax deductions, spending cap Defeatedd $516,632 Defeatedd
Measure 45 (Oregon) Term limits Defeatedd $120,167 Defeatedd
Measure 46 (Oregon) Campaign finance Defeatedd $145,167 Approveda


See also: 2005 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
State Spending Act, Referendum C (Colorado) Temporary suspension of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights Approveda $130,000 Approveda


See also: 2004 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Prop 200 (Arizona) Proof of citizenship for voting/benefits Defeatedd $660,000 Approveda
Prop 56 (California) Reduce vote threshold needed for state legislature to raise taxes Approveda $9 million Defeatedd
Prop 72 (California) Health care Approveda $4 million Defeatedd
Amendment 5 (Florida) Minimum wage increase Approveda $125,000 Approveda
Measure 36 (Oregon) No same-sex marriage Defeatedd $10,962 Approveda


See also: 2002 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Proposition 42 (California) Funding for transportation Approveda $950,000 Approveda


See also: 2000 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Proposition 38 (California) School vouchers Defeatedd $200,000 Defeatedd


See also: 1998 ballot measures
Measure Subject SEIU position SEIU donations Result
Proposition 223 (California) Limit on how much a school district can spend on administrative costs Defeatedd $100,880 Defeatedd

Recent news

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External links