The United Service Workers Union, IUJAT (USWU) can trace its origins back to a small independent labor organization, representing approximately 4000 members that was created in the 1950s. In 1987, under the leadership of USWU’s then-president Steve Elliott (who joined the local in 1980 and served as president from 1987 to 2000), the Local grew to approximately 20,000 members within seven years. The exponential growth of the Local and its national identity soon led to the creation of the United Service Workers Union (USWU), a national organization with over a dozen subordinate locals.
Today, under President Lori Ann Ames, USWU represents approximately 30,000 members within 18 affiliated local unions throughout the United States. USWU’s headquarters are located in Queens, NY and it has satellite offices in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, and members throughout the nation.
USWU has traditionally represented workers in the petroleum, automotive, alarm, and transportation industries. However, as USWU has grown in size, its jurisdiction has continued to expand to cover employees working in construction, HVAC, building service, public sector, white collar professionals, moving, office/clerical, service, telecommunications, and manufacturing industries. Today the USWU has several large divisions of its membership – Automotive, Transportation, Construction, Energy, Public Sector, and Allied/Industrial.
Much of USWU’s success and growth can be attributed to USWU’s innovative and experienced leadership, and its commitment to organizing. The USWU dedicates approximately 90% of its overall annual budget to costs associated with representing its members. USWU has dozens of professional organizers on staff, and is always adding new members to its ranks.
USWU’s eighteen affiliated local unions have enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity. Our growth can be attributed to the USWU leadership’s commitment to purposeful grassroots organizing, affiliations and mergers with independent labor organizations, and through cooperative joint ventures with other labor unions.
USWU prides itself on being a forward-thinking organization with the ability to react quickly to the dynamic environment within which we operate. The principles that guide our decision making continue to be: putting the interests of our members first, providing support and autonomy to our affiliates, structuring our union to provide for the greatest level of democracy, and operating as efficiently as possible.
Not only is USWU’s success reflected in its growth and outstanding member benefits, but is also mirrored in the workplaces of its membership. USWU members are at the top of their industries, enjoying competitive wages, excellent benefits, secure employment, and dignified working environments through the united efforts of USWU’s officers and staff.
Over the years, the USWU has seen unprecedented growth. Since 2005, USWU has achieved a truly remarkable 22% increase in membership. Unlike many other unions that are in decline, our membership has remained stable due to aggressive grassroots organizing and affiliation initiatives. This has been accomplished while maintaining our commitment to providing the highest level of representation to our members. Our focus remains steady and USWU continues to dedicate approximately 90% of its resources to the representation of its members.
As a result of its success, USWU is able to offer the most advanced, topnotch benefit plans, providing secure medical, welfare, and employment separation benefits to the union’s membership for over 50 years. The Union’s Taft Hartley Fund provides fully insured medical, dental, life, AD&D and supplemental disability benefits. The Union also offers its membership the ability to participate in a 401(k) plan.
The Union’s Security Division provides our members with employment separation benefits. Through collective bargaining, participating employers contribute to each member’s individual Security Division account. Annually, the Security Division Trustees declare an annual dividend. To guarantee the security of our members’ accounts, our participants’ balances are invested only in bonds that are 100% guaranteed by the United States Government.
For the future, USWU has a solid plan for remaining a strong, vital organization. In these uncertain times, we must plan for the unexpected and be prepared. It is our goal to build on our great successes over the past years and find new areas for growth. USWU will remain vigilant for opportunities to expand our membership into new and different industries as well as working to grow in our established industries. Our greatest strength is our membership. Building our ranks is the best way to maintain our bargaining power and continue to improve the working lives of our members.