Service Employees International Union

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Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is the largest and fastest growing labor union in the United States and Canada, representing 1.8 million workers in about 100 occupations. The main divisions are Health Care (almost 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 guards). It is based in Washington, D.C. and is affiliated with the AFL-CIO and the Canadian Labour Congress with 300 local branches. Its internal departments are Communications, Education, Human Rights, International Affairs, Organization, Political, and Research. SEIU is sometimes referred to as the "purple army," easily recognized at political events thanks to the union's purple sweatshirts

The SEIU was founded in 1921 in Chicago; its first members were janitors, elevator operators, and window washers. Membership skyrocketed 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.

Politically, SEIU is known as one of the more progressive, reform-oriented unions of the AFL-CIO, and was a founding member of the New Unity Partnership and the Change to Win Campaign, organizations which pushed for reform of the AFL-CIO. The union was one of only three to endorse Howard Dean in the race for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, a joint endorsement it made with the rival American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. President Andy Stern has recently begun keeping a weblog [1] (http://www.fightforthefuture.org/blog/), in which he is often critical of existing union leadership and structure.

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