Why workers join SEIU


SEIU Local 285SEIU Local 285 distributed this poster throughout Boston to convince city employees to join its ranks, 1958. Photographer: Burke & Dean

Since its inception, SEIU has attracted and retained members through the numerous advantages of unionization. As SEIU has grown, so too has its ability to fight for and win benefits¬† — not only for SEIU’s members, but also for those whom SEIU members serve.

Joining a union is the epitome of strength in numbers, enabling members to not only obtain contracts, but a negotiated compensation package that is fair and equitable. As seen in the first photograph, in 1958, SEIU Local 285 advertised the array of tangible benefits including both higher pay and a variety of insurances available to Boston city employees who joined SEIU (then BSEIU).

In addition to monetary benefits, unionization also offers community, and working together for a greater good. The second photograph depicts Justice for Janitors demonstrators from Local 525 advocating for women’s rights and against sexual harassment. The man on the left holds the sign, “Harassment of women will not be tolerated,” and the man on the right holds the sign “We are fighting for our rights.” These men are fighting for rights that don’t apply directly to them, but for their union sisters, demonstrating that union solidarity benefits all members.

Beyond members, unionization benefits people at large, particularly those served by union members. For the nurses featured in the third photograph, their fight is not for higher pay, but rather for improved working conditions that will directly improve patient care. Similarly, the fourth photograph features Local 29 members proclaiming that they “keep Pittsburgh livable” — a benefit extending beyond union members indeed.

Joining a union, and as history has shown, joining SEIU in particular, directly improves the lives of members and their families through better wages and insurance availability. And through SEIU’s size, members are able to stand together to collectively fight for their own rights and working conditions, which not only helps themselves, but also those they serve

Members of Local 525 participate in a Justice for Janitors

Members of SEIU Local 525 participate in a Justice for Janitors (J4J) demonstration against sexual harassment in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 23, 1988. Photographer: Photo Editor, SEIU Communications


Money is not the issue, patient care is

Nurses carry a sign stating, “Money is not the issue, patient care is,” during the Nurse March in Washington, D.C., May 10, 1996. Photographer: Bill Burke/Page One Photo


Pittsburgh Lockout in 1985

Demonstrators from SEIU Local 29, several in costume, protest against the Pittsburgh Lockout in 1985. Photographer: Unknown


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