Labor Union

SEIU 775NW

Logo for the advocacy group and organization SEIU 775 (link)
Website:

seiu775.org

Location:

SEATTLE, WA

Tax ID:

81-0588837

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $29,097,054
Expenses: $25,259,216
Assets: $12,910,535

Formation:

August 2002 in Seattle, Washington

Founder and President:

David Rolf

SEIU 775NW (also styled SEIU 775 or SEIU Local 775) is the northwestern local branch of the national Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that represents home healthcare providers, nursing home employees, and adult day health care workers, mainly in Washington State and Montana.[1]

This local union was created in 2002 to serve as the exclusive bargaining representative for all individual homecare providers in Washington though only 25% of those providers selected the union to negotiate on their behalf. [2]  SEIU 775 is funded by automatically withholding a percentage of its represented employees’ salaries, with a member’s dues amounting to approximately $500 per year. [3] Since its initial organization in 2002, the union has used its political muscle to nearly double the state-funded compensation of its members, bringing their wages to over $14 per hour, [4] costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars.[5]

Correspondingly, the union’s annual revenues from automatically withheld dues have grown from $7.6 million[6]  to $26.9 million in 2016.[7] In total from 2003 through 2016, SEIU 775 has taken in $210 million in revenues from member dues.[8]

SEIU 775 has used its enormous budget to build itself into one of the Washington state’s foremost political powers. [9] Described as a “potent political ally” of the Democratic Party, the union has spent big in support of Democratic candidates and liberal causes.[10] These policies range from a mandatory $15 minimum wage, [11] to Seattle zoning laws, [12] to whether state tax dollars should be spent on a new professional basketball arena. [13]

After a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Harris v. Quinn) called into question the constitutionality of forced union fee payments by non-union-members in the home healthcare industry,[14] SEIU 775 has waged a years-long legal and legislative battle to prevent the conservative Freedom Foundation from informing SEIU 775 members that they could resign from the union and cease paying dues or fees.[15] In the wake of a court defeat, in 2016 the union helped to craft and spent $1.9 million to fund a deceptive ballot initiative, Initiative 1501 (I-1501),[16] which the Seattle Times editorial board panned as a “Trojan horse […] run by a deep-pocketed special-interest group that wants to weaken the state Public Records Act, reducing the people’s access to government records.”[17]

Organizational Overview

In 2001, Washington state voters approved Initiative 775 (I-775),[18] which allowed state-funded home-care workers to create a union.[19] The Service Employees International Union spent over $1 million on the campaign to pass I-775. [20]

In August 2002, after a little-publicized, low-turnout election, SEIU Local 775NW (SEIU 775), having received only 6,575 votes of 25,501 possible votes (25.7%), was certified to act as the monopoly provider of workplace representation for all of Washington’s individual homecare service providers operating under various Medicaid programs.[21] Since then, the union has thrown its considerable muscle into political advocacy for increases in state-funded pay and other state-funded employee handouts to SEIU 775 members.[22]

Currently, the union claims to have 45,000 members including home healthcare providers, nursing home employees and adult day health care workers mainly in Washington State with about 1,000 workers in Montana.[23]

I-775 also created the nine-person Home Care Quality Authority, to negotiate with the new union on the state’s behalf.[24] According to the Washington State Senate’s lead budget writer at the time, then-state Senator Dino Rossi (R-Sammamish), the Authority was stacked with people sympathetic to the union’s cause, which resulted in negotiated contracts that didn’t reflect the reality of the state budget.[25]

Collective Bargaining

In 2017, SEIU 775NW’s president David Rolf acknowledged that the union has historically employed aggressive advocacy efforts to support its political agenda.[26]

SEIU 775 advocacy methods include flooding the capitol with union members,[27] airing TV ads targeting specific legislators, [28] door to door canvassing, blocking the door to the governor’s office, and the union even went so far as to hold protest at the personal home of the state Senate Republican Leader. [29]

Over the course of the union’s first five years, the SEIU 775 prodded state legislators facing multiple billion-dollar budget deficits to give their members $400 million worth of handouts through higher wages and other benefits such as vacation pay. [30] In 2017, SEIU 775NW celebrated an agreement that would raise the average wage for a home-care worker to more than $14/hour.[31]

Dues Skim Controversy

The state automatically withholds a percentage of SEIU 775’s members’ paychecks as dues payments to the union; in 2016, this percentage amounted to about $500 of the $16,000 a full-time provider earns annually.[32]

According to the conservative Freedom Foundation, SEIU 775’s dues withholding percentage of 3.2% is greater than other government worker unions. For instance, dues for the Washington Federation of State Employees are only 1.5 percent of salary.[33]

In 2005 SEIU 775 took in $7.6 million in dues revenues,[34]  by 2016, the union’s dues-based revenues increased to $26.9 million, a more than 350% increase in just over 10 years.[35]

Before 2014, the SEIU 775NW required automatic dues withholding for all home healthcare providers, even those who did not want to be union members.[36] However, in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Harris v. Quinn, relating to a similar Illinois arrangement, finding that mandatory union fees violated the free speech rights of home health care workers. The ruling had the effect of forbidding mandatory fee arrangements for unions representing “quasi-public-employees” like SEIU 775NW.[37]

Shortly thereafter, SEIU 775 informed a select group of workers who had previously specifically asked to be removed from the union rolls that they would no longer automatically deduct their dues. But the union left the automatic deduction arrangement in place for all the other healthcare providers statewide.[38]

Freedom Foundation Dispute

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn decision, SEIU 775 was the only similarly situated union in Washington that withheld members’ union dues without the member first affirmatively giving consent. Other unions are required to seek specific written authorizations allowing payroll withholding. However, for the SEIU 775, the most politically powerful of the unions involved, the state merely required that the union’s members be allowed to opt-out of the union through a written declaration.[39]

The conservative-leaning Freedom Foundation believed that SEIU 775 had done an inadequate job notifying their members of the new Supreme Court ruling and its impact allowing them to opt-out of the union’s automatic deduction scheme. In 2014, the Freedom Foundation began canvassing SEIU 775’s members door-to-door to inform them that they were no longer required to pay union dues or fees to the union and could instead opt-out of the union.[40]

In support of this effort, Freedom Foundation submitted a public records request to the state of Washington, which sought all the names of SEIU 775’s members to inform those individual workers they have a right to opt out  and to refuse to pay the union any fees.[41] Union leaders have consistently attempted to block the Foundation’s ability to access this public information. The union waged a two-year legal and legislative battle to stop production of records.[42] The union’s effort has been called “outrageously aggressive legal harassment.”[43]

2016 Initiative 1501

In the wake of their public records court defeat, in 2016 the union helped to craft and spent $1.9 million to fund a ballot initiative, Initiative 1501 (I-1501).[44] National Review explained that the SEIU 775 had disguised the initiative with a ludicrous spin that it protects seniors and vulnerable individuals from identity theft.[45] The initiative actually served to exempt SEIU’s membership list from state public disclosure law, thereby preventing Freedom Foundation from obtaining that information.[46]

The Seattle Times editorial board labeled I-1501 a “Trojan horse […] run by a deep-pocketed special-interest group that wants to weaken the state Public Records Act, reducing the people’s access to government records.”[47]

I-1501 was approved by 71 percent of voters.[48] In 2017, the Freedom Foundation filed multiple lawsuits seeking to block implementation of I-1501 arguing that the initiative among other things was unconstitutional.[49]

Dues Collection Lawsuit

According to estimates provided by Freedom Foundation’s litigation counsel David Dewhirst, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision, SEIU 775 has been collecting about $3.5 million in illegal dues each year. Dewhirst claims that each home caregiver pays about $585 per year to the union, and about 6,000 caregivers did not give written authorization to the union to deduct dues.[50]

In 2017, the Washington state Supreme Court, decided that automatic deduction of dues did not violate state law.[51] However, the Freedom Foundation is currently pursuing a federal lawsuit that seeks to have the union’s dues deduction scheme deemed unconstitutional. [52]

Left-Wing Political Power

Seattle Magazine in December 2017 wrote that the SEIU 775 over its 15-year history has grown from a scrappy, unconventional union to “arguably the most influential labor organization in state and local politics.”[53]

SeattlePI.com, a major online-only newspaper, attributes the union’s growth in state political power to its increasing membership numbers, Democratic Party-aligned political agenda, and its aggressive approach to lobbying.[54]

Issue Agenda

Seattle Magazine article also noted that during their 15-year history, the union’s political agenda has vastly expanded. Originally focused just on laws affecting a select group of healthcare workers, the union is now seen as a political force to be reckoned with on a wide array of left-wing issues ranging from fast-food workers’ wages, to Seattle zoning laws, [55] to whether or not tax dollars should be spent on a new basketball arena. [56]

Supporting this assessment, Rolf declared that union, as a civically minded organization, focuses not only on issues in their “direct line of sight” but also supports a wide array of left-wing policies on everything from housing, to tax, to immigration policies as well as other left-leaning causes like Black Lives Matter. [57]

Seattle Magazine summarized, “Perhaps no battle has so defined SEIU 775 to the public as the fight for a $15-an-hour minimum wage.” [58] According to union president David Rolf, the fight for $15 originated in an industry outside of the union’s purview but they joyfully embraced it and took it up as their own cause, because it related to the liberal political agenda focused on using government to regulate personal incomes across society. [59]

Support for Democrats

In 2016 the union spent approximately 20% of nearly $6 million of its funds on political activities and lobbying. [60]

The Olympian called the SEIU 775 a “potent political ally” of the Democratic Party, claiming that “the union has spent big in support of Democratic candidates and liberal causes.”[61] Similarly, the former chairman of the Washington State Democratic Party, Dwight Pelz, said the SEIU’s work has dovetailed nicely with the party’s efforts and he credited the union as a major reason why the state had elected a Democratic governor and a Democratic majority in the Legislature. [62]

According to a Freedom Foundation analysis, from 2012-2015 SEIU 775 gave over $3 million dollars to PACs, the state Democratic Party, and political non-profits to support Democratic candidates for state legislative office and to fight for passage of specific left-wing policies.[63]

Lobbying Activities

SEIU 775 has developed a reputation for aggressive lobbying tactics, which includes gunning for powerful lawmakers who don’t support their causes. According to the union’s president David Rolf, this aggressive strategy of intimidation has given his union “access” to almost all of the state’s legislators. [64]

In 2016, SEIU 775, spent $2.37 million on traditional lobbying expenses.[65]

Campaign Finance Controversy

In 2015, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) sued SEIU 775 accusing the politically active union of failing to properly report nearly $1.4 million in donations to its political-action committee. [66] The union eventually was forced to pay more than $39,000 in penalties related to this lawsuit.[67]

People

David Rolf has been president of SEIU 775 since its organization in 2002.[68] Rolf also serves as an International Vice President of the national Service Employees International Union. Prior to joining SEIU 775, Rolf led the successful organization of 75,000 home care aides in Los Angeles, described by the union as the largest union organizing campaign since the 1940s.[69]

References

  1. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  2. Schurke, Marvin L. “Around the States and Provinces: Washington State.” Association of Labor Relations Agencies. October 2002. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.alra.org/newsletter/advisor2002-10.pdf
  3. McMorris, Bill. “Unions Ending Forced-Dues Collection of Home Healthcare Workers.” Washington Free Beacon. July 22, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/unions-ending-forced-dues-collection-of-home-healthcare-workers/
  4. Casquelo, Chris. “1,200 Caregivers Vote Join SEIU 775.” SEIU775.org. December 18, 2015. Archived July 18, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20160710232317/http://seiu775.org:80/category/press/
  5. “$400 Million In Higher Wages & Benefits For Home Care Workers.” SEIU775.org Website. Undated. Archived June 28, 2007. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20070628230540/http://www.seiu775.org:80/homecare/Default.aspx
  6. SEIU 775, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2005, Statement B – Receipts And Disbursements.
  7. SEIU 775, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2016, Statement B – Receipts And Disbursements.
  8. SEIU 775, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2003 through 2016, Statement B – Receipts And Disbursements.
  9. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  10. Brunner, Jim. “State AG’s office sues SEIU 775 over political contributions.” The Olympian. September 25, 2015. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.theolympian.com/news/politics-government/article36559905.html
  11. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  12. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  13. McGann, Chris. “SEIU a growing force in state’s politics.” SeattlePi.com website. June 17, 2007. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20070620163215/http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/320261_seiu18.html
  14. Schrader, Jordan. “Freedom Foundation has unions in its sights.” The News Tribune. October 4, 2015. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article37688484.html
  15. Kim, Hana. “Union leaders furious over door-to-door tactic targeting their members.” Q13 Fox. August 3, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://q13fox.com/2016/08/03/union-leaders-furious-over-door-to-door-tactic-targeting-their-members/
  16. Yack, Austin. “A Free-Market Think Tank Sues Washington State over Union Bullying.” National Review. April 6, 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017.  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446480/freedom-foundation-washington-state-seiu-lawsuit-over-i-1501
  17. Seattle Times Editorial Board. “Reject I-1501 and urge lawmakers to address identity theft.” Seattle Times. October 4, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/reject-i-1501-and-urge-lawmakers-to-address-identity-theft/?utm_source=RSS&utm_medium=Referral&utm_campaign=RSS_opinion
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  19. Blake, Judith. “Bargaining rights for state’s home-care staffers passing.” Seattle Times. November 6, 2001. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20011106&slug=healthinit07m
  20. Blake, Judith. “Bargaining rights for state’s home-care staffers passing.” Seattle Times. November 6, 2001. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20011106&slug=healthinit07m
  21. Schurke, Marvin L. “Around the States and Provinces: Washington State.” Association of Labor Relations Agencies. October 2002. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.alra.org/newsletter/advisor2002-10.pdf
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  23. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  24. Cook, Rebecca. “Home care workers ready for contract fight.” Associated Press. October 29, 2003. Archived March 24, 2005. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20050324161416/http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/business/145920_homecare29.html
  25. Cook, Rebecca. “Home care workers ready for contract fight.” Associated Press. October 29, 2003. Archived March 24, 2005. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20050324161416/http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/business/145920_homecare29.html
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  28. Thomas, Ralph. “Proposed budget creates frenzy.” Seattle Times. April 4, 2003. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20030716024758/http://seattletimes.nwsource.com:80/html/legislature/134668617_budget04m.html
  29. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  30. “$400 Million In Higher Wages & Benefits For Home Care Workers.” SEIU775.org Website. Undated. Archived June 28, 2007. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20070628230540/http://www.seiu775.org:80/homecare/Default.aspx
  31. Casquelo, Chris. “1,200 Caregivers Vote Join SEIU 775.” SEIU775.org. December 18, 2015. Archived July 18, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20160710232317/http://seiu775.org:80/category/press/
  32. McMorris, Bill. “Unions Ending Forced-Dues Collection of Home Healthcare Workers.” Washington Free Beacon. July 22, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/unions-ending-forced-dues-collection-of-home-healthcare-workers/
  33. Dewhirst, David and Nelsen, Maxford. “SEIU’s dues collection from home-care workers is illegal.” Heraldnet. January 15, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.heraldnet.com/opinion/seius-dues-collection-from-home-care-workers-is-illegal/
  34. SEIU 775, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2005, Statement B – Receipts And Disbursements.
  35. SEIU 775, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2016, Statement B – Receipts And Disbursements.
  36. McMorris, Bill. “Unions Ending Forced-Dues Collection of Home Healthcare Workers.” Washington Free Beacon. July 22, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/unions-ending-forced-dues-collection-of-home-healthcare-workers/
  37. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  38. McMorris, Bill. “Unions Ending Forced-Dues Collection of Home Healthcare Workers.” Washington Free Beacon. July 22, 2014. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://freebeacon.com/issues/unions-ending-forced-dues-collection-of-home-healthcare-workers/
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  42. Kim, Hana. “Union leaders furious over door-to-door tactic targeting their members.” Q13 Fox. August 3, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://q13fox.com/2016/08/03/union-leaders-furious-over-door-to-door-tactic-targeting-their-members/
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  49. Yack, Austin. “A Free-Market Think Tank Sues Washington State over Union Bullying.” National Review. April 6, 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017.  http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446480/freedom-foundation-washington-state-seiu-lawsuit-over-i-1501
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  59. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  60. SEIU 775, Annual Report of a Labor Organization (Form LM-2), 2016, Statement B – Receipts And Disbursements.
  61. Brunner, Jim. “State AG’s office sues SEIU 775 over political contributions.” The Olympian. September 25, 2015. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.theolympian.com/news/politics-government/article36559905.html
  62. McGann, Chris. “SEIU a growing force in state’s politics.” SeattlePi.com website. June 17, 2007. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20070620163215/http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/320261_seiu18.html
  63. Abernathy, James. Letter to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and King County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel T. Satterberg. Freedom Foundation Document. July 17, 2015. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.freedomfoundation.com/sites/default/files/documents/45D%20LTR%20SEIU%20775%20(Ferguson).pdf
  64. McGann, Chris. “SEIU a growing force in state’s politics.” SeattlePi.com website. June 17, 2007. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20070620163215/http://seattlepi.nwsource.com:80/local/320261_seiu18.html
  65. SEIU 775 Lobbyist Reporting Summary: 2016 Annual Report. Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. Filed February 15, 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. https://accesshub.pdc.wa.gov/node/16905
  66. Brunner, Jim. “State AG’s office sues SEIU 775 over political contributions.” The Olympian. September 25, 2015. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.theolympian.com/news/politics-government/article36559905.html
  67. Lavallee, Peter. “Press Release: Seiu To Pay More Than $39,000 After Ag Lawsuit Over Campaign Finance Reporting Deficiencies.” Washington State, Office of the Attorney General. January 29, 2016. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.atg.wa.gov/news/news-releases/seiu-pay-more-39000-after-ag-lawsuit-over-campaign-finance-reporting-deficiencies
  68. Barnett, Erica. “As Labor Unions Weaken Nationwide, This Controversial Seattle Chapter’s Clout Keeps Swelling. Seattle Magazine. December 2017. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://www.seattlemag.com/news-and-features/labor-unions-weaken-nationwide-controversial-seattle-chapters-clout-keeps-swelling
  69. SEIU 75 Leadership: David Rolf. SEIU 775 Website. Undated. Accessed January 2, 2017. http://seiu775.org/leadership/david-rolf/
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1943

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2015 Dec Form 990 $29,097,054 $25,259,216 $12,910,535 $76,709 N $0 $29,823,948 $0 $776,700 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $27,049,458 $23,084,560 $9,421,959 $425,971 N $0 $26,674,117 $0 $762,396 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $24,852,917 $22,821,921 $5,703,732 $672,642 N $0 $24,653,893 $701 $758,293 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $22,364,260 $21,872,432 $3,922,647 $922,553 N $0 $22,362,239 $2,021 $837,914 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $21,365,556 $22,458,018 $3,640,183 $1,131,917 N $0 $21,363,027 $2,529 $721,709 PDF

    Filings Without Data

    SEIU 775NW

    215 COLUMBIA ST
    SEATTLE, WA 98104-1511