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Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Workers Worldwide Union, one of many nation’s largest and most politically highly effective labor unions, introduced Tuesday that she would step down after 14 years in her place.

Ms. Henry was the primary girl elected to steer the union, which represents practically two million staff like janitors and residential well being aides in each the private and non-private sectors.

Underneath her management, it launched a significant initiative generally known as the Struggle for $15, which sought to prepare fast-food staff and push for a $15 minimal wage. Successful over skeptics within the ranks, Ms. Henry argued that the union may make beneficial properties by way of a broad-based marketing campaign that focused the trade as an entire moderately than particular person employers.

Labor consultants and trade officers cite the marketing campaign as a significant power behind important minimum-wage will increase in states together with California and New York and cities like Seattle and Chicago. It additionally pushed a recent California law making a council to set a minimal wage within the fast-food trade, which is able to grow to be $20 an hour in April, and to suggest new well being and security requirements.

Ruth Milkman, a sociologist of labor on the Graduate Heart of the Metropolis College of New York, stated the union underneath Ms. Henry had been “prepared to take probabilities on fairly daring initiatives” and referred to as the Struggle for $15 an “extraordinary achievement.”

However the marketing campaign has not unionized staff on a big scale and enabled them to barter collective bargaining agreements with their employers.

Ms. Henry’s tenure has coincided with a sequence of legislative and authorized challenges to organized labor, together with state legal guidelines rolling again collective bargaining rights and permitting staff to choose out of once-mandatory union charges, in addition to a landmark Supreme Courtroom ruling permitting authorities staff to do the identical.

The union’s membership has stayed practically flat on Ms. Henry’s watch, whereas the general share of People represented by unions has declined roughly 15 %. However the union misplaced obligatory charges from greater than 200,000 nonmembers, inflicting a big lack of income.

The union will choose Ms. Henry’s successor by way of a vote of delegates at its quadrennial conference in Could.

“I’m able to move the baton,” Ms. Henry, 66, stated in an interview. “S.E.I.U. is filled with highly effective, dynamic, multiracial leaders of the following technology who’re able to seize this second of employee rebellion.”

The union’s second-ranking official, Secretary-Treasurer April Verrett, stated in an interview that she supposed to be a candidate for the highest job.

A longtime organizer, Ms. Henry was an govt vp when the union’s board selected her to fill out the presidential time period of Andy Stern, who resigned in 2010. She gained the primary of three full four-year phrases in 2012.

Ms. Henry’s strategy has invited criticism that the union is just too top-down in its efforts.

The organizer and scholar Jane McAlevey has criticized the Struggle for $15 for being too targeted on what she calls “mobilizing” — that’s, relying closely on an expert employees, consultants and activists to generate consideration and form public opinion — moderately than constructing an in depth, worker-led group.

As S.E.I.U. bought extra concerned in a union marketing campaign that an affiliate, Staff United, launched at Starbucks in 2021, some Starbucks staff stated decision-making and communications had grow to be extra centralized.

Within the interview, Ms. Henry rejected the rivalry that the union’s campaigns didn’t prominently contain staff, however stated it was essential to pair ground-level organizing with different methods that pressured employers.

The union has additionally been a power in politics and in coverage debates. Ms. Henry took the highest job shortly after President Barack Obama signed the Inexpensive Care Act, which the union had mobilized to assist move. She threw the union into defending the well being care laws towards Republican makes an attempt to repeal it.

The union’s political bets underneath Ms. Henry haven’t all the time labored out, like its endorsement of Hillary Clinton early within the 2016 presidential marketing campaign cycle. Many members later turned smitten by her Democratic major rival, Bernie Sanders.

In 2020, the union took a special tack, laying out a coverage agenda that it urged candidates to embrace, which included making it simpler for staff to cut price on an industrywide foundation and making giant investments in house care and youngster care, together with elevated pay for care staff. Joseph R. Biden Jr. included lots of the union’s concepts into his home coverage platform en path to the presidency.

“It’s an instance of how we take inventory and consider management choices, and draw classes and take into consideration what we need to do otherwise subsequent time,” Ms. Henry stated of the change in strategy.

Nonetheless, main house care and youngster care measures proposed by Mr. Biden died within the Senate.

Ms. Henry stated the union was spending closely on this 12 months’s political elections — a sum more likely to exceed $100 million, based on a union official.

“We need to end the job,” she stated. “We’ve Senate targets, Home targets, governors, state legislators, metropolis councils — to make all the key beneficial properties we are able to make.”

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