Labor or Unions

Women Leading the Labor Movement: Mary Kay Henry

Mary Kay Henry is the first woman to lead Service Employees International Union. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is a union of 2 million members in healthcare, the public sector, and property services. The SEIU Vision for a Just Society states that the union is dedicated to a world

“where all workers are valued and all people respected—no matter where we come from or what color we are; where all families and communities can thrive; and where we leave a better and more equitable world for generations to come.”

Mary Kay Henry studied labor relations at Michigan State University. She graduated in 1979. She joined SEIU in 1980. In 1993 Henry was chosen to head SEIU’s health care division, which comprises some 800,000 home care workers. Most home care workers are women. Henry was appointed assistant to the (SEIU) president for organizing in 1996. Mary Kay Henry was elected President of SEIU by the international union’s Executive Board on May 8, 2010.

She was an early advocate for card checks, eliminating vicious battles over unionization. Henry’s priorities as union president are to advocate for labor rights, immigrants’ rights, and LGBT rights because all working people need to be empowered in building an inclusive, sustainable economy. Mary Kay Henry has been recognized for her innovative leadership for her “Fight for $15” so that fast food, service, and care workers might earn a living wage. Under Henry’s leadership, SEIU supports the Green New Deal Network to pass a Build Back Better program that brings with it clean energy jobs, which pay on average $25 an hour.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that frontline workers need additional protection, wages, and working conditions. Mary Kay Henry has fought for home care and child care jobs to be covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, Social Security, overtime pay, unemployment, and health insurance.


Thanks, and a tip of the hat to for the image.

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