Purple Power: The History and Global Impact of SEIU

Purple Power: The History and Global Impact of SEIU

Purple Power: The History and Global Impact of SEIU

“Purple Power” is a term often associated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a prominent labor union that has made a significant impact on workers’ rights and social justice around the world. This article delves into the history and global influence of SEIU, highlighting its achievements and the industries it has transformed.

Origins and Growth

SEIU was founded in 1921 as the Building Service Employees International Union (BSEIU), representing janitors and elevator operators in Chicago. Over the years, it expanded its membership to include healthcare workers, public service employees, and other service industry workers.

With a commitment to improving working conditions and advocating for fair wages, SEIU quickly gained traction and grew in influence. Its dedication to organizing workers and fighting for their rights led to numerous victories, including the establishment of the first-ever collective bargaining agreement for janitors in 1934.

Expanding Influence

SEIU’s influence extended beyond the United States. In the 1980s, it played a crucial role in supporting the Polish trade union movement, Solidarity, which ultimately led to the fall of communism in Poland. SEIU’s involvement in international labor movements showcased its commitment to global solidarity and social justice.

Transforming Industries

SEIU’s impact on various industries cannot be overstated. In the healthcare sector, the union fought for better working conditions, higher wages, and improved patient care. Through organizing campaigns and negotiations, SEIU successfully improved the lives of countless healthcare workers and ensured better quality care for patients.

SEIU also made significant strides in the public service sector. The union’s efforts led to the unionization of home care workers, who were previously excluded from labor protections. This breakthrough not only improved the lives of home care workers but also elevated the standards of care for vulnerable individuals who rely on these services.

Political Influence

SEIU’s political influence cannot be ignored. The union has been actively involved in supporting political candidates who champion workers’ rights and social justice causes. Its endorsement and financial support have played a crucial role in shaping election outcomes and advancing policies that benefit workers.

Common Questions
  1. What does SEIU stand for?
  2. SEIU stands for Service Employees International Union.

  3. How many members does SEIU have?
  4. SEIU represents over 2 million members worldwide.

  5. What industries does SEIU represent?
  6. SEIU represents workers in various industries, including healthcare, public services, property services, and more.

  7. What is SEIU’s mission?
  8. SEIU’s mission is to improve the lives of workers and fight for social justice.


SEIU’s purple power has left an indelible mark on the labor movement and workers’ rights globally. From its humble beginnings in Chicago to its international influence, SEIU has consistently fought for fair wages, improved working conditions, and social justice. Through its dedication and unwavering commitment, SEIU has transformed industries and empowered workers, leaving a lasting legacy for future generations.