Democratic Party Campaign Workers Want A Union

DNC Co-Chairman Thomas Perez. Source: Washington Examiner

The Democratic Party’s woes may have just gotten worse. Its campaign workers want higher pay…and a union.

The Democratic Party has had its share of problems since its surprising 2016 loss to Donald Trump.

With fundraising at almost record lows, the normally-union friendly party of progressivism is facing dissension within its rank-and-file campaign workers.

In an online petition, a group calling itself the Campaign Workers Guild lists a number of “grievances” against the Democratic Party, including the allegation that they are not even paid the minimum wage.

At its conclusion, the petition states, “we call for the establishment of a collective bargaining unit for all non-exempt campaign workers, including organizers, assistant-level staff, and regional field directors.”

Here is the body of the petition in full:

Campaign Workers Guild Sign-On Letter

Every worker deserves fair wages, a sustainable career with reasonable hours, and respect from management. The Democratic Party is a champion of labor rights, except where its own laborers are concerned. Campaign workers routinely work more than twice the standard workweek for less than minimum wage and no healthcare benefits. We sacrifice our health, financial security, and leisure time to support candidates and movements that we hope will make our society more prosperous, equitable, and inclusive. It’s time for our employers to live up to the values they publicly espouse.

Add your name to our open letter and join the fight to make our campaigns live up to our values:

Dear Democratic Campaign Management,

We, the undersigned, express our commitment to extending to campaign workers the labor rights that our movement has championed for decades.

We come from diverse backgrounds, possess a variety of political views, and have held a range of campaign positions, but we share these fundamental beliefs:

  1. All workers deserve reasonable work hours. The industry standard workweek of 80-100 hours is unacceptable and counterproductive.
  2. All workers deserve fair wages. Campaign workers rarely receive even the national minimum wage for the hours we work.
  3. No one should have to pay to work. Employers should disclose foreseeable business expenses beforehand and reimburse them promptly.
  4. Healthcare is a human right. As transient workers, our health insurance coverage is too frequently interrupted within and between election cycles. Democratic campaigns at all levels should provide medical and dental insurance or contribute to an insurance plan for all organizers that provides long-term coverage beyond the electoral cycle.
  5. Housing should be safe and affordable. If employers require workers to relocate for short-term jobs, they should provide reasonable supporter housing and disclose information about housing arrangements to all parties in advance.
  6. No worker should face retaliation and discrimination. Too often, campaigns have no grievance or harassment procedures in place to protect workers from abuses by management, coworkers, or others.

In short, we envision a workplace environment which is representative of our shared progressive values.

Effective organizing is a professional skillset and campaigns would benefit from retaining experienced organizers. Good organizers are frequently compelled to leave the field for more sustainable careers, to the detriment of Democratic campaigns, candidates, and the Party.

To that end, we call for the establishment of a collective bargaining unit for all non-exempt campaign workers, including organizers, assistant-level staff, and regional field directors. Campaign workers have been fighting for the above progressive values for years. We demand these same protections.

It is unclear how the normally-union friendly Democratic Party’s management will respond to the petition.

However, based upon the language of the petition, it does seem rather hypocritical that the Democratic Party is not even paying its workers minimum wage—let alone pays its workers far less than the $15 per hour that the Democratic Party so often champions as a political issue.


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