Thursday, April 21, 2022

Congressional Staffers Launch Unionization Push

Congressional Staffers launched an effort to Unionize their Workplace, amid a growing reckoning with poor Pay and Hostile Working conditions, encouraged by a fresh groundswell of Lawmaker support.

The group, dubbed the Congressional Workers Union (CWU), said in a Statement it seeks to “unionize the personal offices and committees” throughout Congress. Currently, Staffers in Personal Offices of Members and Committees can Organize, but there is not a process in place for them to codify a Union or exercise Collective Bargaining Rights.

“While not all offices and committees face the same working conditions, we strongly believe that to better serve our constituents will require meaningful changes to improve retention, equity, diversity, and inclusion on Capitol Hill,” the group wrote in a Statement. “We call on all congressional staff to join in the effort to unionize, and look forward to meeting management at the table.”

The Public announcement comes amid a growing reckoning with Poor Conditions for Congressional Staff, detailing Horrific Pay, Long Hours, and Discrimination Accusations. Some Hill Employees say they have to to rely on Food Stamps to survive in the pricey Nation’s Capital.

Additionally, the cumulative impacts of the Pandemic, the increasing frequency of Threats and the Jan. 6 Insurrection, have fueled already rampant Problems retaining Staff on Capitol Hill.

A Congressional Progressive Staff Association (CPSA) Report of 516 Respondents found 47% of Staffers struggle to pay Bills, 68% are Unhappy with their Compensation, and 85% believe Congress is a Toxic Work environment.

Hopes for Unionization got a Major Endorsement when a Spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, 14th District) tweeted that Congressional Staff have the “right to organize their workplace and join together in a union. If and when staffers choose to exercise that right, they would have Speaker Pelosi’s full support.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) quickly backed the push, as well. “Leader Schumer believes that hard-working Senate staff have the right to organize their workplace and if they chose to do so, he would support that effort,” a Spokesperson said in a Statement.

Provisions in the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), which would apply similar Employment Laws on the Private Sector to the Legislature, would enable Unionization but have not been Implemented. Personal Office, Committee, and Leadership, Staffers lack Unions, while Employees with the Capitol Police, the Library of Congress, and Government Accountability Office (GAO) have them.

The Two Chambers could Implement those Changes on their own, the House could pass a Resolution enacting it, and the same for the Senate.

The Resolution would Not be a change to the Chambers’ Rules, instead it would essentially Activate the Regulations put forth in 1996, by the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights (OCWR) governing Staffer Unionization that have lay Dormant for more than a Quarter Century.

The Resolution would likely originate in the Committee on House Administration, Chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA, 19th District), a former Hill Staffer herself.

Multiple House Democrats indicated they would back Staffer’s push to Unionize. Republican Lawmakers, however, did Not join in those calls. The Party has generally Not supported efforts to ease Unionization pushes in the Private Sector, enacting a host of “right to work” Laws around the Country that make it easier for Employees to opt-out of Unions. Just Five Republicans voted for a Sprawling Bill last year to Strengthen Union Protections.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker

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