The congressional campaign staff of South Florida state Rep. David Richardson is the first in Florida to unionize. Campaign workers for Richardson, who is seeking to replace retiring Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, announced today they have ratified a collective bargaining agreement with the Richardson campaign.
The contract approved by the campaign staff includes “healthcare, housing, and a fair disciplinary process that includes progressive discipline and just cause for firings.”
While Democratic candidates tend to be supportive of unions, having campaign staffs organize and unionize is something that hasn’t been heard of until this year.
“Through a tough contract fight, workers for David Richardson stood together and fought hard to win a fair contract,” said Laura Reimers, president of the Campaign Workers Guild. “I am tremendously proud to have all of these workers in our fight. Their example will pave the way for campaign workers across the country who are finally getting to experience what it feels like to bargain collectively, stand together, and improve their working conditions.”
Working for a political campaign has typically been seen as a short term job that brings with it long hours of hard work and stress. But, it’s a trend that has been occurring more and more across the country this year. .
Critics claim it benefits Republican campaigns which are running their operations without unionized staff and are not obligated to terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
“Political campaigns are short-term gigs. They’re not long-term operations. And so this idea of unionization for an eight-month job, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Steve Hildebrand, a former deputy campaign manager for Barack Obama. Hildebrand recently spoke to National Public Radio about the movement to unionize within Democratic campaigns.
“Going into the general election, you know, if you have a campaign team that’s not putting in 80 hours a week on the Democratic side, you’re probably going to lose,” Hildebrand told NPR.
But a staff worker on the Richardson campaign is proud of what she and her colleagues accomplished in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the campaign.
“We fought tooth and nail for this contract, and we couldn’t be prouder.” said Melissa Mihm, field organizer for the Richardson campaign. “As the first campaign to unionize in Florida, I can’t say this enough: Don’t give up. Campaign workers deserve the same rights as all workers, and it’s our turn to make history.”
Richardson is one of five Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for the Congressional District 27 seat. Others in the race include: former University of Miami President Donna Shalala, Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman, and Michael Hepburn, a former University of Miami academic adviser.