OPEIU Local 2 ("Local 2") represents approximately 7,000 working people in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia. We negotiate and enforce contracts, and train union leaders and members. We are constantly working to defend and advocate for our members' rights.
Local 2 is governed by its constitution and by the membership, which votes at quarterly membership meetings. Union business is conducted during monthly Executive Board Meetings, which are open to the public.
The history of Local 2
Local 2 was born in 1904 with seventeen office workers seeking to bargain collectively for better pay, better working conditions, and dignity at the workplace. In the years that followed, charters were issued to office workers in most of the major cities in the US. On March 26, 1931, a charter was issued for Vancouver, BC, thus establishing the first Canadian local. The membership of these earlier Locals consisted principally of workers of trade unions.
The Wagner Act in 1935 stimulated the organization of office workers on private industry. Growth was shown in the retail field and the pulp and paper industry. Some union production workers assisted in the organization of clerical workers in a wide segment of industry. Caught between low salaries and spiraling prices during World War II, office workers sought collective bargaining.
The rapid expansion of defense industries further stimulated white-collar organizations. The demand of this increasing membership focused attention on the urgent need for an international union. The need for communication and cooperation between the Local Unions become more apparent as they entered into collective bargaining agreements with common employers and industries. Locals in various areas organized councils for the exchange of information. Collective bargaining agreements and methods of organization were subjects for discussion. Naturally, these conferences become the active advocates for an international union.
In 1941, the American Federation of Labor convened in Seattle, WA. Representatives of the Western Council of Office Workers (an outgrowth of the Pacific Northwest Council of Office Workers), and Locals from other areas throughout the United States attended. They successfully "lobbied" for the adoption of a resolution instructing the officers of the AF of L to establish an International Council, the customary first step toward an international union. As a direct result of the action, AF of L President William Green called a meeting in Chicago on July 28, 1942. Delegates from 50 Locals attended. They formed the International Council of Office Employees Unions. Most of the remaining 99 locals, which did not attend the conference, promptly affiliated with the International Council.
The delegates elected J. Howard Hicks, President of the Western Council of Office Workers, as first President of the International Council. He immediately established an office in Washington, DC, and with the help of the AF of L began the work of expanding the Council's membership. "The Office Worker," now known as "White Collar," began publication. The line of communication between Locals was further strengthened by frequent field visits of the officers.
Today, metro buses and trains cannot run without us. Washington Gas Light cannot function without us. Kaiser Permanente cannot serve its patients without us. ADT cannot provide security to the Washington-Baltimore Metro area without us.