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SEIU Historical Records

 Collection
Identifier: LR001924
Parts 1 and 2: The SEIU Historical Collection comprises a variety of records documenting the union’s history. Some of these records include an original unedited draft of what would become the union’s official history entitled, A Need for Valor and the original essays that the union contracted John Jentz to write about the union’s early history. Other such histories and some of the primary sources used to write them are found within the collection as well. Except for Andy Stern, who had not yet begun his tenure as international president when these records were collected, there are also files on each international president, the years in which they served as well as files on other important figures in SEIU history. Records addressing jurisdictional issues, federal government decisions, organizing campaigns, and a particular local union investigation are also located in this collection. Record types include correspondences, memos, reports, biographical material, obituaries, speeches, banquet and souvenir programs, arbitration decisions, meeting minutes, agreements, clippings, press releases, reports, and transcript of meeting concerning investigation of Local 32E.

Important Correspondents: Asher, Les Bambrick, James Benenson, Aaron Butler, Walter Chapman, Gordon W. Collins, Walter Cooper, William David, Paul Despres, Leon M. Fairchild, George Gompers, Samuel Green, William Hardy, Charles Hardy, George Hearn, Albert Horan, Jerry Levey, Charles McFetridge, William McGrath, Matthew L., Jr. Meany, George Murray, Milton Quesse, William Scalise, George Schnizler, William Sullivan, David Sweeney, John Ward, William V. Weinlein, Anthony Young, Thomas Zander, Arnold

Important Subjects in the Collection: Labor disputes Labor laws and legislation Labor movement Labor movement leaders Labor movement – Religious aspects Labor union democracy Labor unions – Corrupt practices Labor unions – Discipline Labor unions – Elections Labor unions – Jurisdictional disputes Labor unions – Law and legislation Labor unions – Officials and employees Labor unions – Organizing Labor unions – Press coverage Labor unions – Public relations Labor unions – Rules and practice Strikes and lockouts Unfair labor practices Wages – Law and legislation
Part 3: Important Subjects: Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Important Names: Hardy, Charles Hardy, George, 1911- Scalise, George Quesse, William
Part 1: Series Description: Series I, SEIU Presidents and their Tenure of Service, 1910-1996, Boxes 1-3 This series contains correspondence, clippings, meeting minutes, statistical reports, biographical material, obituaries, speeches, and assorted other material regarding SEIU presidents and key moments about the years in which they served. The series is arranged chronologically according to the terms served by the presidents beginning with William Quesse and ending with John Sweeney. However, the first folder contains material regarding those efforts leading up to 1921 when SEIU became firmly established.

Series II, Selected Historical SEIU Figures, 1926-1996, Boxes 3-4 This series contains correspondence, memos, clippings, press releases, speeches, bios, obituaries, and banquet and souvenir event programs, amongst other material regarding SEIU figures that the union considered important. Except for the first folder, which contains records on miscellaneous leaders, the other folders are arranged alphabetically.

Series III, SEIU Historical Accounts and Sources, etc., 1937-1996, Boxes 4-5 This series contains articles, clippings, correspondence, memos, notebooks, published and unpublished academic papers by James Bambrick, John Jentz, Grace Palladino, students and others. Citations and bibliographies are also contained in the series. Two of the folders contain the original draft version of SEIU’s official history, A Need for Valor: The Roots of the Service Employees International Union, 1902-1992. The series is arranged alphabetically.

Series IV, Historical Subject Files, 1934-1970s, Box 6 This series primarily contains photocopies of documents on various aspects of SEIU history, primarily of the 1930s through 1940s. The documents appear to have been specifically used by SEIU staff members (or those they contracted) to write about SEIU history. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Part 2: Series Description: Series V, Key Records, 1905-1971: Records addressing jurisdictional issues, federal government decisions, organizing campaigns, and local union investigations are located in this series. More specifically, the series comprise memos, correspondences, jurisdictional and other agreements, arbitration decisions, meeting minutes, clippings, press releases, reports, and transcript of meeting concerning investigation of Local 32E.
Part 3: Series Description: Series VI: Court Cases: Primarily documenting court cases, in particular a 1939 court case involving Charles Hardy and eventual SEIU President George Hardy. This series also contains materials including correspondence, publications and flyers.

Series VII: Historic Research Projects: Contains materials from various historic research and oral history projects undertaken by SEIU. Subject matter includes former SEIU presidents William Quesse and George Scalise.

Dates

  • 1905 - 1996

Creator

Language of Materials

Material entirely in English.

Access

Collection is open for research.

Use

Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.

Extent

5 Linear Feet (10 MB)

Abstract

The Service Employees International Union has been in continuous existence since 1921, although its roots extend back to 1902. Originally chartered by the AFL, it became a member of the AFL-CIO when those two organizations merged in 1955. In 2005, SEIU disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO to lead a coalition of other unions to form the Change to Win Federation. In its early years, SEIU primarily organized janitors and window washers. In addition to these, it eventually organized a range of other service workers, including doormen, elevator operators, nonacademic school employees, health-care workers and public employees as well as service workers based in bowling alleys, stadiums and cemeteries, to mention just a few. Originally called the Building Service Employees International Union, the organization changed its name in 1968 to reflect a membership increasingly based in areas other than buildings. The SEIU Historical Collection comprises a variety of records documenting the union's history. Record types include correspondences, memos, reports, biographical material, obituaries, speeches, banquet and souvenir programs, arbitration decisions, meeting minutes, agreements, clippings, press releases, and reports.

History

The Service Employees International Union has been in continuous existence since 1921, although its roots extend back to 1902. Originally chartered by the AFL, it became a member of the AFL-CIO when those two organizations merged in 1955. In 2005, SEIU disaffiliated from the AFL-CIO to lead a coalition of other unions to form the Change to Win Federation.

In its early years, SEIU primarily organized janitors and window washers. In addition to these, it eventually organized a range of other service workers, including doormen, elevator operators, nonacademic school employees, healthcare workers and public employees as well as service workers based in bowling alleys, stadiums and cemeteries, to mention just a few. Originally called the Building Service Employees International Union, the organization changed its name in 1968 to reflect a membership increasingly based in areas other than buildings.

Arrangement

Part 1: Arranged in 4 Series - Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Boxes (3-4), Series 3 (Boxes 4-5), and Series 4 (Box 6). Folders are arranged alphabetically
Part 2: Arranged in 1 series - Series 5 (Boxes 7-9). Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Part 3: Arranged in 2 series - Series 6 (Box 10), and Series 7 (Box 10). Folders are listed by their location within each box. They are not necessarily arranged, so any given subject may be dispersed throughout the entire collection.

Acquisition

Part 1: The records of the SEIU Historical Collection, Part 1 were placed in the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs in September 1997 and were opened for research in June 2006.
Part 2: Part 2 of the collection was accessioned in September 1997 and was opened for research in August 2006.
Part 3: Part 3 of the collection was deposited by SEIU on July 10, 1998.

Other Copies

Part 3: The note file used by Jentz to write three essays on the history of SEIU along with the software used to create the note file are available as electronic files (see folder 10-17 Historic Research Project, 1977-1996).
The entirety of this collection is available in digital form.

Related Materials

SEIU collections

Processing History

Part 1: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in June 2006.
Part 2: Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library in August 2006.
Part 3: Processed and finding aid written by Alexandra A. A. Orchard on December 6, 2013.
Title
Guide to the SEIU Historical Records
Status
completed
Author
Processed by Walter P. Reuther Library.
Date
2006-06
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • 2006-08: Part 2 opened for research.
  • 2013-12-06: Part 3 added and opened.

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

Contact:
5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA