Heather Conroy was elected Executive Vice President of SEIU in 2016 after serving previously as executive director of SEIU Local 503 and as a Vice President on SEIU’s International Executive Board. Conroy’s approach to leadership is based in determination, collaboration and innovation.
Through both traditional and creative approaches to organizing, Conroy has helped to unite underpaid workers to win a better life for themselves and their families. Her leadership on “common good bargaining”—an innovative approach to collective bargaining that raises living standards for all Oregonians—garnered national interest and inspired hope for the future of collective bargaining during a time of hostility toward unions.
In 2012, her leadership and innovation resulted in 22,000 home care workers winning healthcare coverage by resourcefully leveraging the Affordable Care Act. These workers also became one of the first groups of home care workers in the nation to secure a path to $15 an hour in their contract.
Conroy’s dedication to improving the lives of working people by raising wages, creating better working conditions and quality affordable healthcare has helped to grow union membership. Under her leadership, SEIU Local 503 in Oregon has grown to more than 55,000 state, university, local government and non-profit workers as well as publicly funded care providers and nursing home workers. Conroy was also a leader in the creation of Oregon’s Fair Shot Coalition that helped to raise wages for over 100,000 minimum-wage workers and extend paid sick leave to all Oregon workers and continues to push the legislature to address and correct Oregon’s profiling issues.
Conroy’s motivation to work in labor could be attributed to her early life in Pittsburgh when her father and uncles were all members of Asbestos Workers Local 2, however, it wasn’t until she realized pursuing a business degree wasn’t a great fit and Conroy met Frieda Rozen, a labor studies professor that she found her passion and graduated with a degree in labor & industrial relations from Pennsylvania State University. In 1997, Conroy began working with SEIU Local 503 organizing private nonprofit workers and public employees. In 2010, she was elected executive director of the local.
In addition to helping to bring justice and worker rights to the forefront, as a single mother Conroy is raising her 16 year old daughter.