Previously Vice President, Harders Takes on New Role After 14 Years as a Leader and Organizer with the Union
SEATTLE, WA, September 7, 2018 – Caregivers from Washington and Montana have elected Sterling Harders as the new president of SEIU 775, the long-term care workers’ union, by an overwhelming majority. Harders’ election comes after Founding President David Rolf reaches his officer term limits set when he and other members wrote SEIU 775’s Constitution and Bylaws in 2003. Other officers elected with Harders include current Secretary-Treasurer Adam Glickman, newly elected Vice Presidents Andrew Beane and Memo Rivera, and 33 rank-and-file members of SEIU 775. A full list of executive-board members is available at: www.seiu775.org/leadership.
When SEIU 775 was founded, caregivers campaigned to be “invisible no more.” Under Rolf’s leadership, caregivers have gone from making a little more than $7 an hour with no benefits, to having wages that have at least doubled, healthcare, paid time off, sick leave, professional training, and retirement benefits. Once described as “obscure and scrappy,” 775 is regularly described as one of the most powerful political forces in the states of Washington and Montana.
Rolf has been a force for change locally and across the country through 775’s work on the Fight for $15 and through his leadership on the future of work and the future of U.S. labor movements. A longtime supporter of officer term limits, Rolf will continue his efforts to advance the cause of American workers in a number of roles and venues, including as President of Working Washington and the Fair Work Center, member of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative National Advisory Council, and participant in the Harvard Law School “Clean Slate” project on the future of U.S. labor law. He will also continue to serve as chairman of the SEIU 775 Secure Retirement Trust, and chairman of technology startup Carina (which provides job-matching services for home care aides). Forthcoming efforts yet to be announced include additional university-sponsored projects and a new collaboration with Seattle entrepreneur Nick Hanauer on rebuilding the American middle class.
Harders has been a leader and strategic innovator with the Union for more than 14 years, beginning with her career as an organizer and serving the last seven years as vice president. Harders led the field campaign for Proposition 1 in SeaTac, the successful campaign that helped spark the national Fight for $15 movement. She chaired the Union’s Vision 2022 Committee, which revamped the organization’s mission, vision and goals, and ensured that 775 is always ready to fight for and defend caregivers and low-wage workers – a vital need in our current political environment. She currently chairs the Union’s Health Benefits Trust, which provides health insurance to 20,000 caregivers and is a trustee of the SEIU 775 Training Partnership – Washington’s second-largest educational institution by enrollment – and the SEIU 775 Secure Retirement Trust.
“Caregivers have accomplished so much since we began campaigning for the right to form a caregiver union 16 years ago. It has been an honor to work on their behalf,” said Rolf. “I wholeheartedly support Sterling as the new president of SEIU 775. Thanks to her leadership, thousands of members have joined our Union. With Sterling at the helm, I know the organization we built together will always innovate and fight for worker power.”
Caregivers have come a long way from making minimum wage, but they are nowhere near where they should be. Harders and her team will continue leading the Union on its fight for professional training, affordable healthcare, secure retirement, a living wage, better funding, better staffing, and a better quality of life for those they care for.
“Without David and thousands of passionate caregivers, SEIU 775 wouldn’t be standing here stronger than ever,” said Harders. “David believes in making big, audacious goals. Time and time again, he’s proven that we can meet them. His fire is in the DNA of 775. No one at 775 is satisfied with the status quo, and together we will continue to fight for what caregivers and working people deserve.”
“Throughout his career, David has worked to improve the lives of caregivers, working people, people of color, underpaid people and families,” said Mary Kay Henry, SEIU International President. “Sterling has been deeply involved in the same fight, which will ensure a smooth transition. Together, David and Sterling paved the way for cities, counties and states around the country to raise the minimum wage. When the Fight for $15 and a Union was gaining momentum, they helped lead the campaign at SeaTac that won $15 for the first time.”
“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with David and Sterling for years and I have no doubts that SEIU 775 will continue to fight for the justice of all working people, regardless of race, gender, origin, or religion,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, WA-07. “Sterling knows the power and balance of politics and will use that to help guide caregivers for the next three years and hopefully many more.”
In accordance with SEIU 775’s Constitution and Bylaws, the leadership transition will happen on October 1, 2018.
SEIU 775 represents more than 45,000 long-term care workers providing quality in-home care, nursing home care and adult day health services in Washington State and Montana.