About

David Rolf is among a new generation of worker leaders helping to create the next labor movement. Rolf helped lead the historic fights to win a $15 living wage in SeaTac and Seattle, WA. He serves as an International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and as President of SEIU 775, which represents more than 44,000 long-term care workers in the Pacific Northwest.

David RolfRolf has been called “the most successful union organizer of the last 15 years” by The American Prospect, which said that “No American unionist has organized as many workers, or won them raises as substantial, as Rolf.”

Rolf writes and speaks frequently about alternative futures for U.S. worker movements, and is the author of The Fight for Fifteen: The Right Wage for a Working America (New Press, 2016). He has been published in The American Prospect, The Nation, Aspen Journal of Ideas, Social Policy, and Spotlight on Poverty.

Rolf helped found the Fair Work Center, Working Washington, and The Workers Lab. The Fair Work Center is a Seattle-based hub for workers to understand and exercise their legal rights, and also assists in enforcing labor law. Working Washington is a statewide organization fighting for economic justice and workers’ rights in Washington State. The California-based Workers Lab invests in projects that will create the next generation’s labor movement, building economic power for working people at a large scale while developing self-sufficient organizational revenue models.

AboutPage2Rolf is also the founder and board chair of the SEIU 775 Benefits Group, which provides training, health care and retirement benefits to Washington State’s home care workers. The Benefits Group is the largest long-term care workforce development organization in the country and the only organization providing Advanced Registered Apprenticeship training for home care workers. In addition to building career pathways for caregivers, the Benefits Group provides affordable, comprehensive health benefits and the nation’s first pension fund for home care workers.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Rolf graduated from Bard College and joined SEIU as an organizer in 1991. He lives with his wife in Seattle.

Articles about David and his work

This State Wants to Offer Universal Benefits to Gig Workers
Fortune –Oct. 13, 2017


Policies to Protect Workers in the Patchwork Economy: Portable Benefits
The Century Foundation –Aug. 22, 2017


The Conservative Case for Unions
The Atlantic –July/August 2017


Men Don’t Want to Be Nurses. Their Wives Agree.
New York Times –June 24, 2017


New Federal Portable Benefits Legislation Follows State and Local Bills
The Aspen Institute –May 25, 2017


Is the gig economy working?
The New Yorker –May 15, 2017


Seattle implemented a $15 minimum wage two years ago. Here’s what Minneapolis could learn from that fight
MinnPost –April 25, 2017


Europe could have the secret to saving America’s unions
Vox –April 17, 2017


At Labor’s Crossroads
The Nation –March 8, 2017


With Growth of the Gig Economy, States Rethink How Workers Get Benefits
The Pew Charitable Trusts –Feb. 22, 2017


What if Trump’s government paid you to be a couch potato?
KUOW –Jan. 26, 2017


As traditional unions decline, Fight for $15 leader envisions stronger modern labor movement on horizon
New York Daily News –Jan. 11, 2017


Donald Trump’s pick as secretary of labor is a fast-food CEO. And that’s got labor leaders concerned.
KUOW –Dec. 9, 2016


The Minimum Wage Debate: Should WA voters pass a $13.50 rate?
KCPQ –Oct. 9, 2016


Seattle blows off Wells Fargo on $100 million City Light bond financing
Seattle PI –Oct. 7, 2016


“Kanske har jag råd att köpa en bil nu” (“Maybe I can afford to buy a car now”)
Aftonbladet (Sweden) –Oct. 3, 2016


Entrepreneur, labor leader want city to stop doing business with Wells Fargo
Seattle PI –Sept. 30, 2016


Raise the Minimum: New Strategies for Raising Wages and Labor Standards
The Aspen Institute –Sept. 27, 2016


Celebrating the Fight for $15: How raising the minimum wage helps build an economy that works for all
Ford Foundation –Sept. 1, 2016


Giving Labor Its Due
Seattle Weekly –Aug. 31, 2016


With Nudge from SeaTac, Delegates Back Platform with $15 Minimum Wage
The Seattle Times —July 27, 2016


A Midyear Burst of Minimum-Wage Increases Starts on July 1
The Wall Street Journal —July 1, 2016


Exclusive Survey: The Future of Work in America
TIME –June 30, 2016


Review: David Rolf’s “The Fight for $15”
PHI –June 27, 2016


An Increase in the Minimum Wage Strengthens the Economy for All
Truthout –June 26, 2016


Seattle’s Great Minimum Wage Experiment
BBC –June 22, 2016


Audio: McDonald’s and the Minimum Wage
BBC –May 26, 2016


Elizabeth Warren’s Next Crusade: Can Liberals Fix the Safety Net for 21st-Century Workers?
New Republic –May 19, 2016


How We Won the Fight for $15 in Seattle and What’s Next
Civic Skunk Works –May 11, 2016


SEIU Leader Describes How SeaTac Helped Ignite the Minimum Wage Movement
KPLU –May 9, 2016


Executive Q&A: Toward a More Perfect Union
Seattle Business –May 2016


What Raising the Minimum Wage Means for the Future of American Labor
The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC –April 27, 2016


The #Fightfor15, in Seattle and Beyond
DCist –April 26, 2016


Gaming the System for Economic Justice — Our $15 an Hour Minimum Wage Fight
Seattle PI –April 25, 2016


David on Carlson
Talk Radio 570 KVI –April 15, 2016


Fight for $15: Meet the Enfant Terrible Who Turned Minimum Wage into a National Battle
The Guardian –April 9, 2016


David on the Nicole Sandler Show – Fighting for $15
Radio or Not –April 4, 2016


Interview about “The Fight for Fifteen”
NW Labor Press –April 1, 2016


Growth in the ‘Gig Economy’ Fuels Work Force Anxieties
NYT–July 12, 2015


We need bigger economic ideas. Can Hillary Clinton deliver them?
Washington Post–June 22, 2015


Wins for workers
High Country News–May 11, 2015


Local books on the way: Corrupt cops, minimum wage, cleaning up Lake Washington
Seattle Post-Intelligencer–April 29, 2015


LA and the $15 minimum wage: It all started accidentally at a Washington airport
KPCC–Jan 15, 2015


What Do We Want? $15! When Do We Want It? In a Little While!
The Seattle Met Magazine–August 2014


Organized Labor Is Taking A Page From Startup Culture’s Book
BuzzFeed–August 2014


The Politico 50
Politico–September 2014


The Seeds of a New Labor Movement
The American Prospect–Fall 2014


How A Millionaire, A Socialist, And Some Taco Bell Workers Brought A Living Wage To Seattle
Think Progress–June 2014


Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage Agreement: Collective Bargaining Reborn?
The American Prospect–May 2014


Unions are back with city-by-city wage campaign
The Seattle Times–May 2014


David Rolf: Man in the Middle
Seattle Met–February 2014


David Rolf: The man who would make unions matter again
Seattle Times Magazine–March 2013


One Question for SEIU President David Rolf
Seattle Met–December 2013


Why Seattle Voters Will Decide to Pass a $15-an-Hour Minimum Wage
The Stranger–Nov. 30, 2013


Transforming the Union
Washington CEO Magazine–2007


Key Arena fix draws big names – and a nay plea
The Spokesman Review–2006


State’s unions confront the need for change
Seattle Post-Intelligencer–2005


Caretakers Take Charge
LA Weekly–1999


Union Gains Echo Old Triumphs, Hopes Unionism is on the Upswing in America
Los Angeles Times–1999