SEIU Members are United for Justice on All Fronts
Our union has a long and proud history of working people linking arms with others to spark something far greater than what was possible alone. From our birth in 1921 by flat janitors who united with the faith and immigrant rights communities to demand fair wages and working conditions, to SEIU members and Fight for $15 nonunion workers who are uniting with higher education, immigrant, environmental, racial justice and other movements today: this tradition remains vibrant in every corner of our union. Membership with SEIU means following in a great tradition of working people and families coming together to fight for economic and social justice. It also means looking towards the future.
Our vision is of a union and a society where all workers and their families live and work in dignity, where workers have a meaningful voice in decisions that affect them and have the opportunity to develop their talents and skills, and where members stand firm against the forces of discrimination and hate, against structural racism, and against the unfair employment practices of exploitative employers.
To achieve this vision, SEIU strives to bargain contracts that improve wages and working conditions, build political power to ensure that workers’ voices are heard at every level of government to create economic opportunity and foster social justice, and build coalitions and act in solidarity with other organizations who share our concern for social, environmental, racial, and economic justice. We work to engage in direct action that demonstrates our power and our determination to win, and we must hold corporate entities, like universities, accountable for the common good.
Higher education workers have been an integral part of our union. Since 2013, More than 13,000 university faculty have joined SEIU from higher education institutions such as Duke University, the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, and Tufts University to join 120,000 members who work in higher education. Grad students, faculty and other community members united within SEIU have fueled momentum on campuses across the country, creating a movement that continues to build through actions supporting racial justice, gender equity, and Fight for $15. Millions of people have seen a raise in pay because people from all walks of life are united to demand fair pay and a union. Together, we can make sure the economy works for everyone, not just the few at the top.
“Colleges and universities that used to provide a pathway to the American Dream are now becoming a road to poverty for students who find themselves saddled with debt and graduate workers and faculty who are unable to support their families on low pay. SEIU members in every industry are coming together to ensure that our broken higher education system will not derail the next generation. Restoring the rights of graduate workers is a critical step in ensuring that those on the front-lines of teaching and researching at colleges and universities have a voice in improving higher education for all of us.”
SEIU International President, Mary Kay Henry
Testimonials from members
“My experience at Tufts, where part-time lecturers and full-time non-tenure track faculty have united through SEIU, has been one of enhanced pride and self-determination. From our very first encounters with SEIU organizers it has been clear that we were building our union. Though we have benefited from the experience and energy of SEIU’s professional staff at every step, our issues, our preferences, our priorities, our language about our situation, our strategy and our ability to discover all of these have determined the shape and direction of our efforts to form a union.
We now feel much more deeply and more significantly integrated into the university than before. We have gained stature by being together, in a union, and we feel that both in our own commitment to the well-being of our students, and in our ability to be heard and considered part of our university.”
Rebecca Kaiser Gibson, Part-time Lecturer, Tufts University
“Together, we’ve been able to win improvements in pay, benefits, job security and respect. Through our union, we are thinking beyond our individual campuses to work collectively to make big changes for the future of higher education in the D.C. metro region. I urge you to join us in a national movement to improve conditions for faculty and students alike.”
Kip Lornell, Adjunct Faculty, George Washington University
“I’ve personally been inspired by the leadership and achievements of Fight for $15 activists and so many other steadfast fighters who have enlarged the circle of courage it takes to demand fair wages. SEIU Local 73 in Chicago unites people from many ways of life who all share a commitment to creating a better world for future generations, including restoring the promise of higher education. I’m proud to belong to a diverse, active union that is fighting for everyone.”
Jason Grunebaum, University of Chicago
“I’m an adjunct instructor at Loyola University Chicago and a proud union member of SEIU Local 73. As an activist, I am hungry to build the widest, most inclusive movement possible. It’s important that faculty and graduate students come together in one union. It is also key that we stand with others in the Fight for 15, the Moral Movement, Black Lives Matter and the environmental community. SEIU members who work in higher education are committed to winning fair contracts for faculty, but our goals reach beyond just that. We are also united in a fight for justice on all fronts, in academia and beyond.”
Alyson Paige Warren, Adjunct Instructor, Loyola University Chicago