May 30, 2023

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DNC Staff Unionize, With 67% of Eligible Staff Signing Cards

  • Staff at the Democratic National Committee chose to unionize on Tuesday.
  • 67% of eligible staff signed union cards, meaning their union is official.
  • The DNC has publicly welcomed the vote.

Employees at the Democratic National Committee chose to unionize on Tuesday, with two-thirds of the eligible staff signing union cards to make the vote official.

The DNC staff’s decision to unionize with Service Employees International Union Local 500 marks perhaps the most significant organizing effort in politics yet. As the Democratic Party’s main organizing apparatus, its decisions can help set the tone for political campaigns, private firms, and other party workforces to follow suit.

“Throughout this process, our aim has been not only to improve the lives of current and future staff at the DNC, but to ensure our staff, no matter where they live, are protected and given the resources they need to thrive in their careers and succeed in our mission to elect Democrats up and down the ballot,” the DNC staffer and union leader Alison Goh said in a statement.

Former Rep. Donna Edwards, a Democrat of Maryland served as an independent observer and finalized the card count. The union will now formally negotiate a contract with the DNC. Management has publicly supported the employees’ union drives.

The union will now enter into contract negotiations with DNC management.

In a statement, DNC Executive Director Sam Cornale said the committee is “proud to voluntarily recognize SEIU Local 500 after a majority of DNC employees expressed their desire for union representation in a mutually agreed-upon bargaining unit.”

The effort to unionize has been in the works since at least 2018, a DNC union spokesperson told Insider.

“We wanted to send out a strong signal to campaigns, to state parties, to other groups in the political sphere, that this is something that we should do to stand with our allies who have stood with us for so long,” Lucas Acosta, a senior spokesperson and coalitions director at the DNC, told Insider in December. “There’s definitely a tone-setting component of what our goal was.”

The DNC’s move to organize is part of a broader effort among Democratic campaign workers and staffers at political -strategy firms to unionize as the pandemic forces the nation to reckon with workplace culture.

The phenomenon is limited to the Democratic Party, though. Republicans, whose policy stances are more skeptical of unions, have not seen similar organizing efforts in their ranks. In a statement regarding the DNC’s choice to unionize, the Republican National Committee chief of staff said, “We applaud the DNC for rendering themselves even more useless. Perhaps they’ll offer tenure next.” 

In October, employees of the Democratic digital firm Rising Tide Interactive, which creates social-media and email strategies for politicians, voted to unionize with SEIU Local 500. 

Several other firms have organized with the Campaign Workers Guild, founded in 2017 to organize campaigns and the companies that support them. In April, staff at the progressive digital firm Fireside Campaigns voted to unionize with CWG. Workers at Break Something Inc. followed suit and announced in August that that management had voluntarily recognized their union. ActBlue, the primary fundraising platform for Democrats, also unionized with CWG in 2020. The company voluntarily recognized CWG as its workers’ bargaining representative and welcomed the union in a chipper blog post.

“Every head of a progressive group I know says employees have different expectations and needs than they did a decade ago,” one Democratic consultant told Insider in December of the unionizing efforts happening in the Democratic political world. “It’s part of that broader conversation you’re seeing happening everywhere. You recognize that you’ve got to meet your employees where they are, and your employees are in a different place.”