Organizing Victories in Wisconsin, Idaho and New York
The first ever CBA on a political campaign, parking assistants join the CWA and the Idaho Democrats are now a union employer
Over the last week, three big organizing victories were announced. One was a first that could shake up the political system while another brought 80 new members into the union movement.
In Wisconsin, Randy Bryce is running for Congress against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Bryce, a union ironworker, has run on supporting union values, but was it just talk? His staff wanted to find out and organized themselves with the Campaign Workers Guild. When they presented the idea to Bryce, his immediate response was “Let’s do it.” The staff then sat down and negotiated the first ever collectively bargained contract on a political campaign. The contract gave the eight staff members 1% raises, reimbursements for healthcare and set up a third-party structure for reporting sexual harassment. In the aftermath of the contract, the Guild says that they have been contacted by other campaign staff about organizing.
Not to be outdone, the staff of the Idaho Democratic Party has decided to organize with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The unit, which includes 4 staff members were voluntarily recognized by the Party Chairman. Local 291, which represents inside construction, DirecTV call center workers and installers, installers at AT&T and outside linemen, was suggested to the staff by the Idaho AFL-CIO. According to the IBEW, the staff wanted to join the local due to the instability of working a cyclical job. State parties often carry few staffers during non-election years, but then swell their ranks in the months immediately before an election. Most of the staff rarely stay more than a few years. The employees hope to get a contract that formalizes their roles and policies and invests in their professional development. Local 291 hopes to have a contract with the Idaho Democrats soon.
In New York City, 800 parking production assistants (PPA) have voted to join the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1101. The assistants who work for NBC, ABC, CBS, and HBO to secure parking before a planned shoot often spend long hours overnight, alone and without access to bathrooms as they secure tv and movie sites. Often these low paid workers encounter angry drivers and are forced into dangerous situations. After the vote, not a single parking assistant voted no. CWA local 1101 had to hold 7 separate elections all on the same day. “I'm so proud of the work we've done to get here,” said PPA Lanere Rollins after the vote count was completed. “And proud to be a CWA member!"