Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) 2020 presidential campaign announced that its workers had unionized on Friday, making it the first major presidential campaign in history with a unionized workforce.
Employees chose the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 to represent them as their bargaining representative. The campaign said that they recognized a card check system to show support for the union and did not require an election.
“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,” said Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.
The move comes as campaign workers have more aggressively pushed for protections in terms of wages, workers’ rights, and for sexual harassment. A number of 2020 Democratic campaigns have pledged to implement better policies for complaints of harassment and mistreatment. The campaign for former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro pledged to support a union if the staff decides to unionize. Previously the campaigns for 2018 Democratic congressional candidate Randy Bryce and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) unionized as well.
UFCW Local 400 said in a statement that negotiations for the first collective bargaining agreement for Sanders’ staffers will begin as soon as possible, with all employees below the rank of deputy director represented by the union.
“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,” UFCW Local 400 president Mark P. Federici said.
Prior to announcing his second bid for the White House, former Sanders staffers said that they were concerned about harassment and mistreatment on the prior campaign, which resulted in the named bad actors not returning. Sanders met with the staffers and apologized and pledged to better address the problem this time, while also diversifying his staff.