Workers on the Bernie Sanders Campaign on Friday made themselves the first presidential campaign employees in history to win union representation, as a majority signed cards joining United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.
This victory resulted from the Bernie 2020 campaign’s decision to stay neutral in the employees’ organizing drive and its agreement to recognize UFCW Local 400 when a majority of workers signed union cards, said Local 400. As a result, all campaign employees below the rank of deputy director are now represented by UFCW Local 400 and negotiations for their first collective bargaining agreement will begin as soon as possible.
“First, I want to congratulate the Bernie 2020 campaign workers for making history and empowering themselves to improve their pay, benefits and working conditions with a strong voice in the workplace,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “I also congratulate Senator Sanders for not only talking the talk but actually walking the walk when it comes to his commitment to uphold the right of every worker to bargain collectively.
“We expect this will mean pay parity and transparency on the campaign, with no gender bias or harassment, and equal treatment for every worker, whether they’re in Washington, D.C., Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else,” he said.
“I hope this breakthrough serves as a model for other presidential campaigns, as well as party committees and candidates for other offices,” Federici added. “While political campaigns aren’t the easiest work environment, every worker has the right to respect and dignity. And when candidates who claim to support the labor movement practice what they preach, that sends a powerful message that, if elected, they will deliver on their promises to strengthen union rights and level the playing field between workers and employers.”
On February 26th, the Bernie 2020 Campaign and UFCW Local 400 signed a card check and neutrality agreement. By March 15th, a majority of the campaign’s 44 bargaining unit-eligible employees had signed union cards — counted and certified by Rabbi Elizabeth Richman, Deputy Director and Rabbi in Residence at Jews United for Justice, as designated by the agreement — triggering recognition and a countdown to the launch of negotiations. Over the course of the campaign, the bargaining unit could potentially grow to more than 1,000 members.
While this is the first presidential campaign to organize, the 2018 candidacy of Randy Bryce (D) is believed to be the first federal electoral campaign to achieve union representation. Employees of the Vermont and Idaho Democratic parties are also unionized, among others.
While this is the first political campaign represented by UFCW Local 400, the union represents a wide variety of employees in a diverse array of fields, ranging from grocery store clerks to nurses, from retail and food processing workers to police officers. The local’s reputation for effective, tenacious and professional representation, and its strategy of empowering members was cited by Sanders campaign workers as the reason why they chose to affiliate.