Rank and File Member
Turned Union Leader
Remzi's Record of Service
Becoming a member of SEIU Local 25 in January 1986, Remzi’s first job was working as a doorman, receiving room attendant, and janitor while attending college. “I was so grateful because I was able to get health insurance and a living wage to help me pay for school. I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if not for the union.”
While grateful for the Union’s support, Remzi witnessed manipulative management, racial discrimination, and unfair wages from employers. “Wage increases and benefits were completely stagnant, it was rock bottom,” Remzi says.These conditions hit home for Remzi when a longtime building doorman was forced to return to work just one year after retiring, the result of an insufficient pension. “The pension just wasn’t enough for this door man to live on. After I saw that happen, I knew I had to get involved.” Shortly thereafter, Remzi became a union rep for Local 25, beginning a career of service to union members that’s spanned nearly three decades.
“It’s been the privilege of a lifetime to be able to serve working families in Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Now more than ever, working families need a strong voice who will advocate for them and improve their lives. I strive every day to be that voice at Local 73,” Remzi says. “And luckily,” he adds, “I don’t have to do it alone. The Members Leading Members team will have the backs of our workers every step of the way. I’m proud to be slated alongside such a diverse group whose skills complement each other so well.”
Read more about Remzi’s Record of Results:
Union Representative at SEIU Local 1 (1996-2004)
Negotiated contracts that tripled the pension contribution for doormen and increased wages by 20%
Increased district membership by 25%, adding 750 new members and 160 new units
Instrumental in opening the Local 1 Training Center, which provided workers the opportunity to enroll in a 2-year apprenticeship program and earn a nationally-recognized certificate, which increased potential for promotions and wage increases.
Senior Staff Specialists at Illinois Nurses Association (2004-2009)
Serviced members throughout the Northern Region (21 units), negotiating contracts & implementing internal organizing & member services
Prepared members for negotiation, setting up teams to meet all contingenies
Presented contracts to general membership, developed internal leaders, & held regular labor-management meetings to resolve issues before they reached a grievance
Contributed articles to the newsletter to enhance member awareness of key issues
Worked with board of directors to implement strategic plans, motivating membership into contract campaigns
SEIU Local 73 conducts the first historic strike in thirty years with the UIC professionals.
Director of Higher Education Division (2009-2017)
Served as Chief Negotiator for all new and existing contracts under the Higher Education Division, servicing 19 master contracts for hundreds of workers at University of Chicago, UIC, City Colleges of Chicago, Loyola University, and others.
Grew the Higher Education Division from 2,700 members to over 4,000 after going through senate hearings, rallies and contract negotiations to add academic professionals at UIC to Local 73
Drove wage increases by as much as 20% in one year for 480 new members to the Higher Education Division
Earned an Executive Board Member role, responsible for developing the mission and vision for his unit
Coordinated hundreds of grievances and guided dozens of Union Representatives through the grievance and arbitration
Served on the Leadership Team of the Joint Bargaining Committee, a team formed to implement innovative strategies on how to best represent members
Remzi’s skilled negotiation was critical in achieving the first contract for 800 professionals at UIC, including conducting the first historic strike in 30 years.
“Remzi has worked tirelessly and effectively with our team through 16 months of contract negotiations with the administration. He excels at listening to the members and at skillfully guiding us through the bargaining process. Remzi’s knowledge of negotiations and the relationship he has built with us, our membership, and with the management’s team...has been instrumental in the progress we’ve made.”
University of Chicago Faculty
“Remzi was instrumental in negotiating our first professional contract at UIC, nearly doubling members’ wages with pay increases averaging 28%.”
David Garcia, University of Illinois Professional
I have been a member of SEIU Local 73 for over 29 years and I served as a Union steward for nearly 14 years at the University of Illinois Hospitals, prior to becoming a Union Representative.
I began working for the Union in October of 2005. Although, I employed for the Union now, I still work very closely with all the members at the University of Illinois in my role as a Union representative.
The Union Stewards and I work collaboratively as a team. It has been a tremendous pleasure to serve in my current capacity as a Union Representative.
I have learned a lot from the people who I have been fortunate to work with over these years. I look forward to moving the Union in a new direction and having a member lead Union.
As the Secretary-Treasurer our members dues are extremely important, and it is our responsibility to use care and consideration regarding those dues.
I have worked for Catholic Charities
a member of Local 73 when we organized in 1999. I have been part of all of our contract negotiations since then. I was elected as a Head Start program in Joliet Illinois for over 25 years. I became steward, have been a former Executive Board member, I am the current Secretary for the SEIU Central States Latino Caucus, I am an Executive Board member for the SEIU International Latino Caucus.
As a member, I have been part of important and exciting events like: help, attended rallies, and many other Leadership trainings. One of my proudest moment was helping to organize a large rally for a co-worker on Ottawa Street in Joliet and had a great turnout of members.
I also worked organized Home Healthcare workers in Seattle, voter registration and GOTV.
We need a union that will fight to improve our standard of living and I pledge to do everything within my power to make sure we never forget all of us working together, we will win.
Members Leading Members is the power and I am ready to do my part to make it happen.
As a child I truly was the epitome of a tomboy. I played softball, shot marbles in the dirt, martial arts and was into weight lifting. I was a strong fit child and my mother would chastise me often because I would come home from school and had many fights defending my school friends from bullies. I would always defend those who could not defend themselves.
Because of my nature, I had many friends who the cool kids thought of as nerds and so forth. Even as a child I fought injustice and those who take advantage of anyone who was unable to defend themselves.
I was first introduced to unionism by my father who worked for a major ink production company. He performed back breaking work and was a trade unionist. He believed in the value of a union to working families lives and past that believe on to me.
My first real job was working at Lakeside Veterans Administration Hospital. SEIU Local 73 was the union there for paraprofessionals, technicians and building and service workers. I joined the union even though it was an open shop and paying union dues was not required.
I worked for the VA many years before I was asked to run for Union steward. I won that election and was soon in the cross hairs with management because I fought hard for my fellow co-workers. It was not long before I was elected as Chief Steward, then hired as a Union Representative for SEIU Local 73 representing the VA hospitals and administrative areas.
As a Union Representative I worked with many talented people and was given extensive training to prepare me for contract negotiations and complexed representational work (arbitration, etc.)
I currently have over 25 years working with SEIU and our members. I truly believe in the work that Unions give to our members. Just as I fought injustice as a child, I continued as an adult and the Union has given my that opportunity to continue to fight for what I believe in and that is all workers should be treated fairly and with dignity!
I will continue to work hard for you as a Vice President if given the opportunity.
The Union office leadership should be held by an individual who can actually bring solutions that will change the labor movement to improve our better way of life and I am that individual.
Our Local 73 needs a drastic new approach before it’s too late. If we do things the way that they’ve always been done, then things will remain the way that they’ve always been and that, at this point, means a continued decline in the membership and activism by the rank and file. Not increasing our base and standards is gross negligence and completely unacceptable. Don’t let it get any worse. I will not let this Local go another year losing power. If you will elect me as your Officer, I will serve the Local 73 membership to inspire our members to build power across the State of Illinois and NW Indiana. Those needs will change over time, but right now, as of today, the top priority is educating and empowering the membership to move the Union forward. Vote for the Members Leading Members Slate , and you’ll be voting for a promising new future for all of us.
Ronald Lee started his Union Career with Local 73 as a Warehouse worker with Chicago Housing Authority.
Ron started first by becoming a Union Steward and he progressed to Chief Steward with Chicago Housing Authority.
As Chief Steward he was on the Bargaining Committee and helped Negotiate Contracts for the Unit.
S.E.I.U Local 73 was so impressed with him and offered the position of Union Representative in the Higher Education Division.
There he negotiated several contracts and helped achieved Pay Equity for the workers in Higher Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He worked in Higher Education for six years before moving to the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park District.
He has worked with the schools and parks for over 13 years serving workers of S.E.I.U Local 73. My goals and future with S.E.I.U is to Represent and Defend the interest of our fellow workers as Labor Union Representative.
I come from a family with strong union values. My father worked for forty years supporting our family as a machinist. Growing up, he told me and my siblings that we should find a good job and work hard at it. For him, and later, for me, that always meant a union job.
What I learned as I got older is that good union jobs are becoming harder and harder to find as the constant assault against labor has followed me from my home state of Wisconsin under Scott walker, and now to Illinois under Bruce Rauner. This is why I work in the labor movement and why for the last six years I have done everything I can to bring new members into Local 73 as an external organizer and leading campaigns as a Lead Organizer.
I know that the rights that we in Labor have fought to win are under attack and if we don't fight back strategically and with an eye to the future we will lose everything in the face of threats to our existence. To win that fight we need to commit not only to organizing our fellow members but to organizing new members to build strength. We can win against Bruce Rauner and "Janus". We can win against Donald Trump.
I started with SEIU in 2014.
I have wanted to fight for the rights of all our union workers. Some of the successful things that I have done was to help provide all my union workers a chance for them to get their voices heard. While growing up in Chicago in being a daughter of a labor union member.
I understand the importance of every employee rights with understanding the concept on what is needed to have a strong and successful union. This is why I am running for Vice President for SEIU so I can help successfully chose to fight for the right and fairness for employee within the employees Cook County.