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About Us - SEIU Local 87 - San Francisco, California


The SEIU was founded in 1921 in Chicago as the Building Services Employees Union (BSEU); its first members were janitors, elevator operators, and window washers.

Ninety years ago, members of seven small flat janitor unions dared to dream they could build their strength by forming a single organization, the Building Service Employees International Union, BSEIU. A union of mostly immigrant workers, BSEIU was primarily organized of janitors and window washers in its early years--workers who were excluded from other unions at the time.

BSEIU faced opposition from building owners, the courts, and even other unions, but managed to quickly grow from 200 members in 1921 to 250,000 by 1960.

In 1968, the BSEIU changed its name to Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The Chicago-based Local 1, the union's first local union, continues to unite janitors, security officers, and other property service workers for justice at the workplace and in our communities today.

From those humble beginnings grew an organization of 2.2 million janitors, nursing home workers, nurses, child care providers, security officers, county and city workers, and other workers.

Today SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America, uniting workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Over 25 percent of our members whom identify as immigrants - a constant tribute to the union's roots. From the start, SEIU has embraced its heritage as a union of immigrants and has stood on the frontline of immigrant justice.

SEIU Local 87

One of the first SEIU locals was SEIU Local 87. Our Janitors Union in San Francisco was started during the 1930s by George Hardy. Hardy's leadership and worker action improved wages, benefits and working conditions for the janitors who worked in San Francisco's office buildings.

Under future leaders such as Herman Eimers, Rex Kennedy, and Robert Parr, members of Local 87 continued to enjoy improved wages, benefits and working conditions. These victories were all won with very few strikes.

George Hardy was one of the most important leaders of SEIU and Local 87 has a heritage as one of the most important locals of SEIU. Local 87 has always had a strong independent role within SEIU.
Today, SEIU Local 87 continues to honor our heritage as a union of janitors with an immigrant justice campaign that focuses on political mobilization, legislative action and member education. It's time to fix our broken immigration system. Immigrants work hard, pay taxes, sacrifice for their families, want to learn English, and believe in the American Dream.

SEIU members keep our buildings and communities safe and clean and our families healthy, we care for our children and our elderly, and keep our cities and states running.

We stand up for justice and for civil rights for all--for immigrants, for women, for LGBT workers, for people of color, for all workers--because we know that's the only way we can move our country forward.

These are all proud parts of our history. And today we are still uniting for the same things that brought those flat janitors together nine decades ago--a good job that supports a family and includes healthcare, a secure retirement after a career of hard work, safe and livable communities, and a better future for our children. 

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