In 1906, Local 1 in Indianapolis received the first clerical federal charter issued by the AFL (American Federation of Labor) representing a union for Stenographers, Typists, Bookkeepers and Assistants. However, not until the Wagner Act of 1935 did office worker organizing gain momentum. This critical legislation, which gave workers collective bargaining and organizing rights, propelled thousands of clerical employees into action. Dozens of clerical union charters were formed during this time. In 1936 Mollie Levitas presented the first resolution calling for an international union of office workers at the AFL convention in Tampa. Nine years later the AFL issued a charter to Office Employees International Union (OEIU), with 22,000 members strong, at a convention in Cincinnati.
Ten years after the AFL merged with the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) at the AFL-CIO’s 10th convention in San Francisco in 1965, our union changed its name to the Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). OPEIU reached a landmark of 110,000 members (representing 125,000 employees) in the United States in 2010 and continues to grow through organizing new members around the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Puerto Rico. OPEIU represents employees and independent contractors in credit unions, hospitals and medical clinics, insurance, higher education, transportation, shipping, aircraft manufacturing, utilities, hotel, administrative offices and more.
Professional organizations and Guilds affiliated with OPEIU are a diverse group that includes physicians, registered nurses, pharmacists, chiropractors, appraisers, podiatrists, clinical social workers, hypnotists, teachers and helicopter pilots.