Known nationally as an innovative labor leader, David Rolf is the President of SEIU Healthcare 775NW, the fastest growing union the Northwest representing 43,000 home care and nursing home workers in Washington state and Montana. He also serves as an International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union, the international organization which represents more than 2.1 million workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Rolf, 43, has led some of the largest organizing efforts since the 1930s.
While the Los Angeles Times compared Rolf’s work with organizers from labor’s golden years of the ‘30s, Washington CEO Magazine wrote that Rolf “isn’t your father’s union leader.”
Rolf’s creativity and political savvy resulted in the successful 1999 organization of 75,000 home care workers in Los Angeles – the biggest union win in six decades. He then moved to the Pacific Northwest where he went on to replicate his organizing success. In 2001, Rolf led a statewide voter initiative to give home care workers the right to form a union in Washington. Once passed, more than 26,000 workers voted to join SEIU. Today, the union has nearly doubled in size winning wage increases, benefits and other rights, and becoming a powerful political force championing the rights of workers, seniors and people with disabilities.
Rolf helped create the SEIU NW Healthcare Training Partnership and Health Benefits Trust. Rolf guides these independent non-profit organizations as their board president, helping to ensure that they provide essential educational training and healthcare benefits to Washington’s growing homecare workforce. The Training Trust has become a national model for universal career training and certification for home care aides.
Faced with a membership who primarily works alone in client’s homes, Rolf couldn’t rely on the traditional shop steward to provide daily support to members. Instead, Rolf introduced new organizational models that built on the union’s diverse population, including offering support and services in eight languages.
The Seattle Times has compared SEIU Healthcare 775NW’s political clout with major Washington corporations like Boeing and Microsoft for the union’s ability to win victories in Olympia. SEIU Healthcare 775NW also is a leader in reaching out to build alliances with community organizations, employers, long-term care providers, the business sector, and both Democratic and Republican elected officials.
In addition to his responsibilities with SEIU, Rolf also sits on other boards and steering committees for governmental advisory bodies, political action committees and non-profit organizations.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Rolf graduated from Bard College and joined SEIU as an organizer in Atlanta, Georgia in 1991. He’s married and lives in West Seattle.