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About The Workers United Retirees Association

Workers United is an affiliate of the Service Employee International Union (SEIU). Our union represents about 150,000 workers throughout the United States and Canada in the following industries: laundry, food service, garment, apparel, textile, distribution, manufacturing and healthcare.

The Workers United Retirees Association is made up of retired union members from Workers United and our predecessor unions: ILGWU, ACTWU, UNITE and UNITE HERE.

Below is a brief history of our union:


Workers making women's clothes form the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union (ILGWU).


A winning strike of 20,000 garment workers, mostly teenage girls, in New York City launches the ILGWU.


A fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City kills 146 workers, leading to the first workplace health and safety laws.


Men's clothing workers form the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA).


The ACWA opens the Amalgamated Bank for workers and unions.


Southern textile workers organize the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA).


ACWA begins employer-paid health and life insurance.


The Sidney Hillman Foundation was established to honor journalism that exposes the common good and to continue the legacy of Sidney Hillman, a legendary union pioneer.


Strike at the Brass Rail ends victoriously after six years.

1958 100,000 striking ILGWU members in eight states win the required use of the union label.
1963 The TWUA begins organizing at textile giant J.P. Stevens.

ACWA and TWUA merge and create the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU).


Norma Rae, an American film based on the true story of Crystal Lee Sutton, demonstrates the poor working conditions at the J.P. Stevens factory as well as the workers struggle to organize a union.


After 17 years, 4,000 workers at J.P. Stevens win a contract.


The United Hatters, Cap, Millinery Workers International Union (UHCMW) merges into ACTWU.


UNITE is formed. ACTWU merges with the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) to create the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE).

1998 UNITE begins a major organizing campaign in laundries and attains success by representing 40,000 laundries within five years.
1999 5,000 workers at Fieldcrest Cannon textile mills join UNITE after a 25-year struggle.
2004 HERE and UNITE merge to create UNITE HERE.


UNITE HERE is the first Union to endorse Barack Obama for president.

2009 Workers United is created. The majority of the UNITE side of the union, along with some locals from HERE leave UNITE HERE to form Workers United.
2013 For the first time in our union’s history 15 retiree delegates from our Workers United Retirees Association are granted the right to vote at our union’s convention.

Updated Aug 19, 2016