Workers from the offices of eight Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives filed motions to hold union elections on Monday, according to the Congressional Workers Union.
In total, 85 workers are partaking in the action. They represent the offices of Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Chuy Garcia of Illinois, Ro Khanna and Ted Lieu of California, Andy Levin of Michigan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico. All are Democrats.
The vote comes after the House of Representatives voted 217-202 in May to approve a resolution that recognizes congressional workers’ right to unionize. The vote was straight down party lines, with every Republican in the House opposing the measure, NPR reported at the time.
The CWU is an independent organization created to represent the staffers of the U.S. Congress. Its organizing committee is composed of about 15 staffers that work in offices and committees across the House and Senate.
“For far too long, congressional staff have dealt with unsafe working conditions, unlivable wages and vast inequity in our workplaces that prevent Congress from properly representing the communities and needs of the American people,” the CWU said in a statement. “From Amazon and Starbucks to the halls of Congress to state legislatures across our country, every worker deserves the protected right of freedom of association, joining together with their colleagues in solidarity to organize and bargain collectively for a better workplace.”
President Joe Biden has sought to make union-friendly policies and good-paying jobs central tenets of his administration, especially with inflation and the pandemic destabilizing the lives of workers around the country.
”I intend to be the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history,” Biden said in a September speech.
Congressional workers were granted bargaining rights in 1995 with the passage of the Congressional Accountability Act but those rights need the passage of a second resolution in order to be implemented. On May 10, 2022, that second resolution was passed after being introduced by Levin.
The passage started a 60-day interim period during which no action could be taken. That period ended today.
“We are honored to be welcomed with open arms by workers into a broader labor movement that is sweeping the nation,” the CWU said. “We look forward to voting enthusiastically UNION YES in the coming weeks and sitting down at the bargaining table with our bosses.”
Molly Weisner contributed to this report.