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We’ve been standing up for healthcare workers since 1944


The Building Services Employees International Union (BSEIU) is founded in Chicago by seven small janitor unions. It soon includes service workers, doormen, elevator operators, non-academic school employees, healthcare workers and public employees.


The BSEIU establishes its first locals in Canada, at Montreal and Vancouver, on behalf of elevator operators, window cleaners, janitors and other maintenance employees.


The BSEIU organizes its first hospital workers at Toronto General Hospital. A year later, it establishes its first charter in Ontario.


The BSEIU organizes workers at four hospitals in Thunder Bay.


Workers at Victoria Hospital in London launch a year-long struggle for certification. Because of their actions, the government of Ontario amends the Labour Relations Act to include city employees.


BSEIU healthcare workers in Ontario go on strike at Trenton Memorial Hospital. Members brave weeks of freezing cold winter weather to achieve their demands. The Conservative government of Ontario under John Robarts responds a year later with legislation that takes away the right to strike from all hospital workers.

BSEIU makes submissions to the Ontario government that leads to changes in the Labour Relations Act, ensuring due process in arbitration for disputes with hospital workers.


The BSEIU organizes its first clerical unit at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. A large number of the new members are women, and they initiate a campaign to fight for workplace gender equity that continues to this day.


The BSEIU changes its name to the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).


The SEIU begins organizing nursing homes throughout Ontario. Newly achieved collective agreements include pensions, workplace health and safety regulations and language against contracting out.


The SEIU wins two major labour decisions that still today form the basis of all arbitration and Ontario Labour Relations Board decisions regarding the contracting out of work.


The SEIU works with the NDP government of Ontario to pass legislation that wins the right to strike for essential service workers.


The Ontario Conservative government under Mike Harris attempts to eliminate the proxy equity comparison method and cap payouts owed to women. The SEIU joins other unions and goes to court to fight the legislation. The case is finally settled in 2003, providing up to $414 million in pay equity funding to 100,000 women.

In response to government cutbacks and anti-union legislation, SEIU Canada joins the Days of Action, a provincial-wide labour campaign that includes one-day general strikes and rallies in eleven cities throughout Ontario.


Six SEIU locals vote to merge health care and community service members into one provincial local, SEIU Local 1.


SEIU Local 1 wins large annual wage increases for its membership. Healthcare work continues to evolve into more skilled work requiring advanced technical knowledge, training and expertise.


In 2008, SEIU Local 1 was renamed SEIU Local 1 Canada to reflect the local’s potential.


SEIU Local 1 becomes the first health care union in Canada to receive an automatic recognition from a Provincial Labour Relations Board.


SEIU Local 1 changes its name to SEIU Healthcare, and unveils a new brand, logo and tagline.


Due to significant investments in organizing, the membership of SEIU Healthcare grows 45% in the last decade alone. Now a collective of over 55,000 members, SEIU Healthcare commits itself not only to workers’ rights, social justice, and equity, but protecting and improving Canada’s publicly administered, universal healthcare system.

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