A group of congressional staffers on Friday announced an effort to unionize the Capitol’s press officers, policy wonks and constituent case workers, saying it was time to give staffers a voice in the workplace.
The Congressional Workers Union announced its organizing effort amid rising discontent with congressional staffers’ pay and working conditions.
“After more than a year of organizing as a volunteer group of congressional staff, we are proud to publicly announce our efforts to unionize the personal offices and committees of Congress, in solidarity with our fellow workers across the United States and the world,” a statement from the group read.
“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. That starts with having a voice in the workplace. We call on all congressional stuff to join the effort to unionize, and look forward to meeting management at the table.”
The announcement noted a recent survey from the Congressional Progressive Staff Association that found that 91% of congressional staff respondents, including management staff, “would like to see more protections to give them a voice at work.”
The same survey found that half of non-management respondents reported struggling to pay bills, and that over a quarter of non-management staff, or 109 respondents, reported not having at least one month’s rent saved in case of an emergency.
Public support from Democratic members of Congress for a unionization effort has built in recent days.
The Congressional Workers Union cited a note of support from a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Thursday. And a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told CNN Friday that “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.”
The union drive comes as congressional staffers are increasingly making their voices heard, particularly through the anonymous Instagram account @dear_white_staffers, which publishes unattributed reports about congressional working conditions said to be from congressional staffers and others involved in politics and policy. The account was profiled in the Washington Post and Politico on Friday morning.
On Friday, the @dear_white_staffers account was, as usual, buzzing with reaction and testimonials from Hill workers.
“There are 224 Members [of Congress] who voted on the House Floor to strengthen the right to organize (PRO Act),” one anonymous commenter wrote to the account.
“I need to see EVERY DAMN ONE of them publicly supporting a staff union. I need folks to ask questions LOUDLY of the members who talk out of both sides of their mouth. Who’s keeping a running list ???”