/Bernie’s 2020 Campaign Makes Union History

Bernie’s 2020 Campaign Makes Union History

Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Bernie Sanders made history this week. The senator’s campaign leadership confirmed on Friday that they had voluntarily recognized the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 as the official union for workers on his presidential bid. In doing so, Sanders became the first major-party presidential campaign to recognize a union for its staff.

The campaign chose to recognize its unionized workers after 44 employees signed union cards. Contract negotiations for collective bargaining are expected to begin soon—potentially extending to 1000 employees. (The union said anyone under the rank of deputy director is eligible to join.) “Bernie Sanders is the most pro-union candidate in the field, he’ll be the most pro-union president in the White House and we’re honored that his campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said of the decision. Sanders himself tweeted support:

UFCW Local 400 President Mark P. Federici offered a more cautious assessment: “We expect (unionizing) 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.” Sanders’ 2016 campaign was previously accused of of both sexual harassment and pay disparity.

It’s likely Sanders’ recognition of a staff union will push other democratic candidates to follow suit. The 2018 midterm elections saw a number of democratic campaigns unionizing staff under the Campaign Workers Guild and others, especially as candidates tout livable wages and benefits for the voters they aim to represent. Fellow 2020 candidate and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro has also suggested he would recognize a unionized staff, having already pushed for a minimum wage of $15 per hour for his employees.

According to Politico, the Campaign Workers Guild signaled some unease with Sanders’ campaign. “While the Campaign Workers Guild has concerns and questions about the unionization process engaged in by Bernie 2020 management, their recent announcement shows that we have succeeded in changing the status quo,” a statement read. “On even the largest campaigns, campaign workers at all workplaces will have unions and will band together for their collective empowerment.”

Also on Friday, Sanders hit his head on a shower door, and the resultant laceration required seven stitches. His campaign said he did not fall, and would not miss any
campaign events.

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