AOC campaign workers join a union (with her blessing)

Stephon Johnson | 7/16/2020, midnight
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez practiced what she preached this week with the help of her campaign staffers.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Twitter photo

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez practiced what she preached this week with the help of her campaign staffers.

Her re-election campaign agreed to a collective bargaining agreement with staffers ratifying an agreement with the Campaign Workers Guild (CWG). This deal includes all non-managerial staff, part-time, hourly and full-time employees.

Meg Reilly, president of CWG, said this is the start of a new day with electoral campaigns and their staffers.

“A few years ago, campaign workers who demanded workplace rights like a living wage, health insurance, and sexual harassment policies were laughed out of the room,” stated Reilly. “The tide is turning, and these workers have shown that unionization is about more than the contract: it’s about workplace democracy; it’s about solidarity; and it’s about putting workers at the forefront. Vice President Julia Ackerly and I are thrilled to welcome AOC campaign workers to CWG.”

Ocasio-Cortez said, in a statement, that the agreement is in line with her values and politics.

“Workers’ rights are the cornerstone of an economy that puts humanity first. I’ve lived without health insurance or dignity in the workplace, and I applaud the work our team has done to raise the bar for all workers,” said Ocasio-Cortez (she/her).

While the congresswoman wasn’t available to speak directly to the AmNews, a campaign staffer told the paper that they hope the other political campaigns follow suit, but acknowledged that it might be difficult for some.

“We hope on the campaign side that this would help other campaigns unionize and pretty much get workers’ rights and get it in writing,” said the staffer. “We were fortunate to be working for AOC, but we do know that smaller campaigns can’t get everything that we push for.”

The contract also included paid time off, unlimited sick days, health and life insurance, a 40-hour work week, severance pay, a salary floor of $4,000 a month for full-time staff and, recognizing that many staffers are also parents, child care.

“We’re putting into practice so many of the policies this campaign organizes for every day,” stated AOC’s events manager and CWG bargaining team member Ariella Schwartz (she/they). “I am proud to work with my fellow union members who fought not only for our contract, but who also work tirelessly in pursuit of a just policy that would ensure quality healthcare, a living wage, and a 40 hour work week to every worker in the nation.”

Despite Pres. Donald Trump’s administration pushing against labor rights for the past several years, AOC’s staffer hopes that this level of success in organizing follows suit everywhere else.

“Having this collective bargaining agreement will definitely strengthen the labor unions since we’re already pushing this in Congress,” said the staffer. “We want to see this throughout all the sectors and not just in political campaigns.”