Category Archives: SEIU

SEIU: A Successful Union in an Era of Labor Decline

Dr. Timothy Minchin explores how the SEIU nearly doubled its membership from 1980-1995, during a time of significantly declining numbers in most other American labor unions. Through an exploration of SEIU’s membership drives at nursing homes, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, and its long-running Justice for Janitors campaign, Minchin credits the union’s growth to a combination of organizing, affiliation with independent unions, legislative advances for public employee unions, and the prevalence of low-wage jobs in the growing service sector. Dr. Minchin is a Professor of History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

Related Collections:
SEIU Executive Office: John Sweeney Records
SEIU Publications
SEIU Organizing Department Records

Related Resources:
Timothy Minchin – “A successful union in an era of decline: interrogating the growth of the Service Employees International Union, 1980-1995,” Labor History

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Interviewers: Dan Golodner, Sarah Lebovitz
Interviewee: Timothy J. Minchin
Music: Bart Bealmear

Documenting the Now: SEIU Archivist Sarah Lebovitz on Using Archives to Empower the Future

SEIU archivist Sarah Lebovitz explains how her background in anthropology informs her work as an archivist, preserving and revealing the experiences of underrepresented groups. She recounts successful SEIU actions including the implementation of needlestick protocol for healthcare workers and the organization of women office workers in SEIU District 925, which served as inspiration for the classic 1980 film 9 to 5, starring Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda (whose oral history about the movement is available at the Reuther Library). Lebovitz describes the challenges and opportunities of archiving social media and digital content, and making archives more accessible and interactive for researchers. She and host Dan Golodner discuss the challenge of convincing union organizers and members that the work they’re doing today is historically important and worth documenting.

Related Collections
SEIU archival collections at the Reuther Library
SEIU District 925 Records
SEIU District 925 Legacy Project Oral Histories
SEIU Oral Histories

More Information
Documenting the Now

Episode Credits
Producers: Dan Golodner and Troy Eller English
Host: Dan Golodner
Interviewees: Sarah Lebovitz
Sound: Troy Eller English

With support from the Reuther Podcast Collective: Bart Bealmear, Elizabeth Clemens, Meghan Courtney, Troy Eller English, Dan Golodner, and Paul Neirink

Julia Gunn on Civil Rights Anti-Unionism: Charlotte and the Remaking of Anti-Labor Politics in the Modern South

Dr. Julia Gunn explains how progressive civil rights politics enabled Charlotte, North Carolina, to become the nation’s second-largest largest financial capital while obscuring its intransigence towards working-class protest, including public sector sanitation workers, bus drivers, firefighters, and domestic workers. Gunn is a Critical Writing Fellow in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Continue reading Julia Gunn on Civil Rights Anti-Unionism: Charlotte and the Remaking of Anti-Labor Politics in the Modern South