Our History

In 1906, Local 1 in Indianapolis, Indiana, received the first clerical federal charter issued by the AFL (American Federation of Labor) representing a union for Stenographers, Typists, Bookkeepers and Assistants. Not until the Wagner Act of 1935, however, did organizing of office workers gain momentum. This critical legislation, which gave workers collective bargaining and organizing rights, propelled thousands of clerical employees into action. Dozens of clerical union charters were formed during this time.

The first OPEIU Director of Organizing, Henderson B. Douglas, “on the stump” organizing for the union in 1941.


  In 1936, Mollie Levitas presented the first resolution calling for an international union of office workers at the AFL convention in Tampa, Florida. Nine years later the AFL issued a charter to the Office Employees International Union (OEIU), with 22,000 members strong, at a convention in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

An OPEIU member in the 1950s.


Ten years after the AFL merged with the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) at the AFL-CIO’s 10th convention in San Francisco in 1965, our union changed its name to the Office and Professional Employees International 

OPEIU reached a landmark of 110,000 members in the United States in 2010 and continues to grow through organizing new members around the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

OPEIU members and their families at Family Day in Washington, D.C., in 1981. More than 450,000 people participated that year.


We represent employees and independent contractors in banking and credit unions, insurance, higher education, shipping, hospitals, medical clinics, utilities, transportation, hotels, administrative offices and more. Professional organizations and Guilds affiliated with OPEIU are a diverse group that includes podiatrists, nurses, teachers, and helicopter pilots.  

Paul Hutchings

OPEIU’s First President

J. Howard Hicks

OPEIU’s First Secretary-Treasurer


Approximately 100 OPEIU members aged 35 and under attended the AFL-CIO’s Next Up Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on September 28-October 2, 2011. They are pictured with OPEIU’s Rising Stars bus.


Delegates to the 2016 OPEIU Convention in Orlando, Florida.


Delegates to the 2023 Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Richard Lanigan

International President
Dec 2015 - Present

Mary Mahoney

January 2010-Present

Visit opeiu.org for more information and like us on Facebook at Facebook.com/opeiu.  Follow us on Twitter @opeiu.
About Us

​The Office and Professional Employees International Union was chartered in 1945 and​, with more than ​90,000 members, we’re one of the larger unions of the AFL-CIO. OPEIU has locals ​throughout the United States and Canada.

More Information
Contact Us
President's Office 
80 Eighth Avenue
(entrance at 265 West 14th Street)
Suite 201
New York, NY 10011
Phone:  (800) 346-7348 / (212)-675-3210