32BJ SEIU WPA District Director
Sam Williamson has been a labor and community leader for over 20 years, focusing on workers’ rights, equitable economic development, affordable housing, climate justice and a living wage for all workers. Sam became the Western Pennsylvania Area Leader of Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union in January 2014. Under Sam’s leadership, 32BJ has grown by over 25% in Western PA and now represents nearly 7,000 downtown office cleaners, public school workers and food service workers at Pittsburgh’s largest universities and throughout the Western PA region.
Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Williamson got his start in labor as a unionized hotel waiter in Boston. After a stint as a community organizer for InFact, a corporate accountability organization, Sam was hired as an organizer by his former union, UNITE HERE. He moved to New York City in 2001 to organize, represent, and bargain for UNITE HERE’s food service local. His first campaign resulted in a landmark win for food service workers at JFK airport. During his tenure at UNITE HERE, Sam helped lead successful low-wage worker campaigns in corporate cafeterias across Manhattan.
In 2006, Williamson returned to Pennsylvania to manage the newly-formed union local, UNITE HERE PA Joint Board in Western PA. As the Joint Board’s Pittsburgh Director, he restructured the union to win strong contracts, grow member activism and consolidate political power. Under Sam’s leadership that local won landmark worker retention language to protect jobs during future ownership transitions. Sam also successfully organized the Renaissance Hotel, a victory for hundreds of workers after a nearly decade-long union struggle.
In 2011, Williamson accepted a position with 32BJ SEIU, where he currently coordinates the union’s bargaining, field and political programs across Western PA. During his time at 32BJ, Williamson has negotiated dozens of union contracts, overseen the successful landmark organizing campaign of more than 1,000 Pittsburgh security officers, and strengthened the Union’s political and legislative activism.