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Hill Staffers Form First Union Inside Congress

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The union organizing wave that’s hit Amazon, Starbucks and Trader Joe’s got here to a recent workplace this week: the US Congress.

Staff members within the office of Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) voted unanimously to affix the brand new Congressional Staff Union, the group announced Monday. Levin’s staff is the primary on Capitol Hill to achieve union representation, following a vote by House Democrats to increase recent labor rights inside the legislative branch.

The union says staffers of Democratic Reps. Ro Khanna (Calif.) and Ilhan Omar (Minn.) will vote in additional elections later this week.

The union said in an announcement that it’s “ecstatic” concerning the landslide win in Levin’s office, and that it looks forward to bargaining a contract there.

“The employees clearly and emphatically expressed their desire to bargain collectively and have a seat on the table to find out workplace conditions and advantages,” the group said.

The staff of Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) was the primary to unionize.

Bill Clark via Getty Images

Congressional offices were traditionally carved out of collective bargaining laws, but Democrats, led by Levin himself, passed a resolution in May clearing the way in which for them to form unions. Due to the way in which Congress is ready up, the employees must unionize office by office, fairly than as one large bargaining unit, meaning some will likely go for representation and others won’t.

The Congressional Staff Union has said that forming unions could be one of the best technique to push for higher pay and safety standards for many who work for lawmakers on the Capitol. Staffers say that many salaries are exploitatively low ― House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced a recent salary floor of $45,000 in May ― and that staffers are subjected to discrimination and harassment.

As a member of the Congressional Staff Union organizing committee told HuffPost earlier this 12 months: “There’s a culture of secrecy, and you will have to pay your dues to make your way up the ladder. That’s really what allows these workplace abuses to fester.” Being without union rights left staff “in a spot where we are able to’t fully address these concerns.”

Although some members may not like the concept of getting to bargain with their staff, Democratic lawmakers couldn’t have withheld collective bargaining rights from their employees without being called hypocrites. Democrats by and enormous are supportive of unions, and lots of have cheered on the organizing successes this 12 months at big-name employers like Starbucks.

The House measure passed on a party-line vote over the opposition of Republicans. The Senate would want to pass its own, separate resolution with a view to open the door to members’ staffers forming unions.

The fiercely pro-labor Levin comes from a union background, having worked as an organizer with the Service Employees International Union and the AFL-CIO union federation before coming to Congress. He said passing the resolution on collective bargaining in Congress was a “major highlight” of his profession.

Any union contract Levin’s staff can secure could be short-lived: The progressive lost a bruising primary in August to fellow Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens, after the 2 members were redistricted right into a contest with each other. Levin’s term ends in January.

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