New contract mirrors the Party’s platform, with paid family leave, $15 minimum wage, and unlimited sick leave
RICHMOND, VA (December 21, 2020) – The office staff of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPVA) voted unanimously to ratify their first union contract on Friday. They join many other state Democratic Party offices in an ongoing wave of unionization among campaign and political workers.
“This is what democracy in the workplace looks like,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400. “Working together, these workers not only formed a union for the first time in the state party’s history, they have also negotiated a union contract that can serve as a standard-bearer for other campaigns and state Party offices. That sort of unity and teamwork is exactly what unions are all about. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The groundbreaking agreement includes many common union protections unavailable to non-union workers, such as just cause protection from unjust discipline or firing, a grievance and arbitration process to resolve disputes with management, and a progressive discipline policy.
But the contract also mirrors much of the progressive platform of the Democratic Party, including paid overtime protections, paid family leave, comprehensive protections for immigrant and transgender workers, and a robust anti-discrimination policy. And while all current employees are salaried, the agreement also mandates a $15 minimum wage for hourly workers. The contract also provides unlimited paid sick leave to all employees and the employer covers 100% of all health care premiums for employees.
“Democrats in Virginia have come a long way since I started at DPVA in 2002, and I’m proud to see our party living up to its values,” said Brenner Tobe, Chief Technology Officer and Deputy Executive Director at DPVA, who also served on the union bargaining committee to negotiate the contract. “It’s a testament to everyone involved that this was a smooth bargaining process that created a contract we can all be happy with. DPVA is leading the way in the movement to organize campaign and political workers, and I hope we can serve as an example to other state parties in the future.”
The staff announced they had unionized in September and negotiations on the first contract began shortly thereafter. The innovative collective bargaining agreement took effect immediately upon being ratified and expires on December 31, 2022.
UFCW Local 400 has recently unionized other political and campaign workplaces, including the Bernie Sanders campaign staff, who were the first-ever presidential campaign staff to ratify a union contract, as well as the staff of the Lee Carter campaign, the first political campaign workers to unionize in Virginia.
The staff of the Democratic Party of Virginia are the latest in a string of state Party offices to unionize. The Florida Democratic Party staff recently announced plans to unionize with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 824 and Kentucky Democratic Party workers unionized in November with IBEW Local 369. Other IBEW locals represent the staffs of the Montana Democratic Party and the Idaho Democratic Party, among others. Workers at the Missouri Democratic Party, as well as field staff of the Wisconsin Democratic Party and North Carolina Democratic Party, are unionized with Campaign Workers Guild (CWG), according to the union’s website, and in February, Missouri Democratic Party workers announced plans to unionize with CWG as well. Around the same time, staff of the Democratic Party of Oregon voted to unionize with the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1094, which also represents staff of the Washington Democratic Party. In March of last year, staff of the South Dakota Democratic Party unionized with UFCW Local 304A. Workers with the Oklahoma Democratic Party unionized with Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local No. 381 in May of 2018. According to news reports, the first state party to unionize was the Vermont Democratic Party, which organized with the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 4 in November of 2017.
The United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400 is led by President Mark Federici and represents 35,000 members working in the grocery, retail, health care, food processing, service and other industries in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. www.ufcw400.org