WASHINGTON — The Office of Congressional Workplace Rights began accepting applications Monday for Hill offices looking to form unions just minutes after organizing protections, passed by the House of Representatives in May, went into effect.
The newly unionizing staffers work for Reps. Andy Levin (MI), Ilhan Omar (MN), Ro Khanna (CA), Cori Bush (MO), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ted Lieu (CA), Melanie Stansbury (NM), and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL).
HISTORY: Congressional staffers will file petitions with the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights today to form unions in eight House offices… The move paves the way for Hill staffers to begin negotiating salary, promotion policies and paid and sick leave!!! pic.twitter.com/pPLU8IO2Ak
— Dear White Staffers (@DWS________) July 18, 2022
The path to labor organizing protections was hard-won in the House, where workers have been organizing for years behind the scenes with advocacy think tanks and non-profit organizations.
“We helped push congressional unionization onto the political radar by elevating its long-forgotten history and pointing out that either house of Congress could immediately allow their staff to unionize under the law,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress. “We published a brief history of unionization, educated congressional staff on how it would work, submitted testimony to appropriators and authorizers over several years, and pushed the House and Senate to put the regulations into effect.”
The organizing protections came through a rule that passed the House by a vote of 217-202 on May 10. Rep. Levin authored the resolution that became the rule with the help of the newly formed Congressional Workers Union (CWU), a staff-led group that has spearheaded the unionizing effort in the House.
✊🏾✊🏼✊🏿BREAKING: Today we are unionizing the United States Congress.
— Congressional Workers Union (@Congress_Union) July 18, 2022
CWU organizers tell Latino Rebels there is nothing stopping Senate staffers from organizing, as well.
But Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is not so sure. Warren said she would support her Senate staffers if they decide to unionize, but the institutional protections, if any, that would exist if they decided to unionize is something she’s still looking into.
Pablo Manríquez is the Capitol Hill correspondent for Latino Rebels. Twitter: @PabloReports