Democratic Party staff goes union
This June 14, 2016, file photo shows the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. Staff members at the Democratic National Committee in Washington have opted to organize a union for collective bargaining rights, party and union officials said Aug. 3, 2021. The move marks the first time a national party organization has become a union shop, despite Democrats’ long relationship with organized labor. Alex Brandon | AP

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Following in the path blazed by Democratic presidential campaign staffers—including those for Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden last year—the Democratic National Committee’s much more permanent staff unionized on August 3 with Service Employees Local 500. Recognition came via card-check. DNC leaders welcomed it.

The unit will have approximately 150 people. Determining exactly who, and which positions, are covered and which aren’t will be the first task the two sides undertake.

“DNC staff see unionizing as not just an act of principle, but a reaffirmation of solidarity among workers and the key role of unions in building the middle class. While unionization efforts often stem from workplace disputes, that is not the case at the DNC. Staff and management in fact agree that unionizing the workplace is a real-life adoption of Democrats’ shared values,” their joint announcement said.

The DNC “has the ability to be a powerful agent of positive change for working Americans,” Sustaining Donor Manager Cristen Sparago, a lead organizer, said in the statement. “We organized because we believe when workers are strong, America is strong. This is an opportunity for the DNC to live its values.” Unionizing will be especially valuable for workers of color, LBGTQ workers, and differently abled workers, Sparago added.

“My grandmother came to this country 50 years ago as an immigrant and for 30 years was a teacher’s aide and a proud union member,” said Thaha Sherwani, a video researcher. “I’ve seen firsthand how valuable unions are and I know my colleagues share the conviction that unions are a positive force for our country and our workforce.”


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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