Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign will be a union run organization. In a Friday statement, the campaign reported that it had recognized its staff’s decision to unionize. This is the first major-party campaign to employ a formally organized workforce.
Sen. Sanders tweeted that he was “proud” of this historical move and, just like he said in his stump speech, Sanders tied the development to his own pro-union message.
“We cannot just support unions with words, we must back it up with actions,” Sanders said. “On this campaign and when we are in the White House, we are going to make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.”
The staffers will be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, which said that anyone below the rank of deputy director would be eligible to join the bargaining unit. The campaign voluntarily recognized the group, the union said in a statement, after a majority of 44 eligible employees signed union cards.
Contract negotiations are expected to begin soon, the union said, and the bargaining unit could ultimately reach 1,000 members.
This move will put other Democratic presidential campaigns, especially the ones competing for progressive voters, under pressure to do the same.There will be pressure to at least remain neutral if their staffers decide to organize.
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro’s campaign has signaled it would back a similar move. On the campaign trail, Sanders has continually vowed in speeches to make it easier for workers to unionize. He often compares it to his push for a rise in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.
In his last campaign, there were reports of sexual harassment and pay disparities. There will now be added pressure to fortify safeguards against similar mistreatment.
“We expect (unionizing) will mean pay parity and transparency on the campaign, with no gender bias or harassment, and equal treatment for every worker,” United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 President Mark P. Federici said in a statement on Friday, “whether they’re in Washington, D.C., Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else.”