Tom Balanoff: SEIU Local 1 President

Tom Balanoff is President of both SEIU Local 1 and the SEIU Illinois State Council.  SEIU Local 1 represents 50,000 property service workers throughout the central United States, including 10,000 janitors who recently organized in Texas, Ohio and Indiana.

Under Balanoff’s leadership, Local 1 streamlined the union’s internal structure by creating the first Member Resource Center—a state-of-the-art call center and grievance-handling center—and by centralizing regional organizing resources in the local’s Campaign Center, which runs strategic organizing and contract campaigns.

SEIU’s Illinois membership has doubled during Balanoff’s presidency, after the Illinois unions restructured into industry-focused locals and organized more than 75,000 low-wage workers in the health care and child care industries.

As president of the Property Service Section of Union Network International—which includes more than 50 building service unions in 40 countries—Balanoff negotiated a ground-breaking international organizing agreement with ISS, the world’s largest cleaning company.

Balanoff graduated with a Master’s Degree in Labor and Industrial Relations from the University of Illinois in 1974, and worked for the Fire Fighters Union, the Allied Industrial Workers’ Union, and the Cement Workers Union before joining SEIU as international research director in 1988. Within a year, he was promoted to Building Service Division director, where he joined SEIU’s senior staff and played a crucial role in the ground-breaking Justice for Janitors campaigns.

Balanoff moved to Chicago in 1994 to become the trustee of Local 73, where he was later elected president. He was elected to the SEIU International Executive Board in 1995, and became an International Vice President in 1996. In 1999, he led the reorganization of the largest building service local in the country, the 75,000-member Local 32 BJ in New York City.  In 2000, Balanoff returned to Chicago, where he was elected president of Local 1.

SEIU’s Illinois Council was an early supporter of Barack Obama, and Balanoff led the international union to endorse Obama in the Presidential Primary.   SEIU Illinois also works to create independent political power for working people in Chicago.  Balanoff was one of the founders of Chicago Jobs with Justice; is a founding member of United Power; and has served on the boards of the Chicago Anti-Defamation League, Citizen Action Illinois, and the Illinois Coalition for Better Health Care.

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