The 5,000 members of SEIU Local 199 are proud to serve the people of Iowa. We work in schools and healthcare facilities across the state.
Our healthcare members care for patients in a variety of settings — from one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers in Iowa City to a community-based nursing home in rural Strawberry Point. Our members work as registered nurses, laboratory scientists, patient access representatives, food service workers, custodial staff and in dozens of other healthcare occupations.
Our education members serve K–12 and Head Start students in urban, suburban and rural districts. Our members are the backbone of their schools. We are the bus drivers who get students to and from school, the teacher’s aides who help them learn, the food service workers who keep them going strong, the maintenance staff who make sure they stay safe, and the secretaries who keep everything running smoothly.
HISTORY OF SEIU LOCAL 199
Our local’s roots go all the way back to the 1930s, when custodians at the Cedar Rapids Schools joined in the wave of organizing that helped build America’s — and Iowa’s — middle class.
In 1974, Iowa’s legislature passed the Public Employment Relations Act, which gave solid ground rules to public service workers seeking to organize and build their unions. In the 1970s and ’80s, a host of new SEIU locals were formed — from school workers in Dubuque (SEIU Local 282) to hospital employees in Creston (Local 725).
In the 1990s, SEIU membership in Iowa continued to grow, and many existing SEIU locals and a number of independent associations merged into SEIU Local 150 based in Milwaukee.
Then in 1998, roughly 3,000 nurses and healthcare professionals from the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics united to win a powerful voice for patients at the state’s largest hospital. This surge in SEIU membership led to the creation in 1999 of our own Iowa local — SEIU Local 199.
We’ve continued to grow in the 21st century, adding workers from the Linn-Mar Community School District near Cedar Rapids, nurses from Finley Hospital in Dubuque and a number of other schools and healthcare facilities.