It’s a major move toward labor organizing for underpaid political staffers.
The Democratic Party has largely ignored the ongoing unionization efforts across the country during one of the most significant labor movements in modern history, but it’s going to be much harder to do so now that the union is coming from inside the house. On Tuesday, the staff of the Democratic National Committee announced plans to unionize.
The DNC staff election was held yesterday, with votes counted by former Democratic House of Representatives member Donna Edwards. According to NBC News, 67% of eligible staff voted in favor of forming a union. Management at the DNC voluntarily recognized the union, avoiding the need for the workers to seek recognition through an independent arbitrator. The DNC union will be joining the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Service Employees International Union.
“We are incredibly excited to join SEIU Local 500 to live our Democratic values at our workplace,” Alison Goh, a DNC staffer, told NBC News. “Throughout this process, our aim has been not only to improve the lives of current and future staff at the DNC, but to ensure our staff, no matter where they live, are protected and given the resources they need to thrive in their careers and succeed in our mission to elect Democrats.”
With the union now in place, staffers will begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement. Political staffers are notoriously overworked and underpaid and receive minimal protections or benefits. The union will likely seek to address some of those problems as it heads to the negotiating table with the DNC.
There has been some momentum among political staffers to unionize, including the staffers working on Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. They managed to secure a contract that included promises to pay insurance premiums for low-level workers, place a cap on the pay limit for top campaign officials, and extend protections against discrimination to staffers.
The DNC staffers’ move to unionize at a national level could galvanize local offices across the country to follow suit. Unions are important tools for laborers in all types of work to get their voices heard and fight for the basic rights and benefits that they need. Democrats would be well-served by listening to the needs of their workers and recognizing the unionization efforts.