New York, NY (October 4, 2016) – The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, CLC, has named Cynthia Schu as its new organizing director.
“I am so pleased that Cindy has agreed to become our organizing director,” said OPEIU President Richard Lanigan. “Cindy brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and is respected throughout OPEIU and the labor movement for her many organizing accomplishments and knowledge of innovative and creative approaches to reaching working people.”
Schu joins the International after leading organizing efforts at OPEIU Local 8 in Washington State since 1991. During that time, she assisted OPEIU with a number of organizing campaigns.
“I’m thrilled at this opportunity to help build and enhance OPEIU’s organizing programs that will continue to impact the lives of working people across the country,” Schu said.
Schu has spent her career working to improve the lives of working people. “Freedom from Poverty through Action” served as the motto for the non-profit organization where she worked as a home care director after graduate school. “The motto was a contradiction, given the agency employed mostly middle-aged female caregivers with no health insurance or paid time off and poverty-level wages,” Schu said. The injustice compelled her, with the support of her union, Local 8, to organize home care workers in Washington for the first time. The successful campaign resulted in health insurance, paid sick leave and wage increases for workers statewide.
After experiencing how union action can make a real difference in the lives of working people, Schu joined the staff of Local 8 in 1991 as an organizer. She had previously served for two years on the local’s executive board. As organizer, and later organizing director, she helped thousands of health care, social service, office and public-sector workers successfully unite in a union. Local 8’s commitment to organizing was recognized with multiple awards under Schu’s leadership, including the 2008 Henderson B. Douglas Memorial Award, OPEIU’s highest organizing award.
In 2001, Schu was elected secretary-treasurer of Local 8, while continuing to serve as the local’s organizing director. She has also served as a retirement plan trustee and as a member of various advocacy groups. She holds a Masters of Social Work degree from the University of Washington.