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Virginia Democratic Party staffers unionize

Virginia Democratic Party staffers unionize

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during an event with union members in the backyard of a home in Lancaster, Pa., Sept. 7. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Staffers at the Democratic Party of Virginia announced Monday they had successfully unionized into two bargaining units that party leaders are formally recognizing.

A unit representing eight office staff members is undergoing contract negotiations, while a larger unit of 52 campaign staffers recently ratified its first contract, a party spokesman said.

The Democratic Party has in recent years seen increased interest in unions among its campaign workers. During the party’s presidential primary, at least five campaigns saw workers successfully unionize.

“Campaign workers and staff at DPVA have spent years working to elect pro-worker candidates who fight for organized labor. It’s only right that we as a party live up to our values and recognize the right to join a union,” said DPVA Chair Susan Swecker in a statement.

The two bargaining units are affiliated with two different national labor groups.

DPVA campaign workers, who work for the state’s coordinated campaign and assist with campaigns up and down the ballot, organized under the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 666.

DPVA office staff are represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 400.

Unionization among presidential campaign staffers attracted much attention last year. The campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the first to have a ratified contract. Other campaigns with unionized staffs included those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is the first of a major-party nominee with a ratified union contract.

“There is a national movement of campaign workers seeking representation and a voice in their workplace, and Virginia workers are leaders in that effort,” said Charles Skelly, a union staffer at IBEW Local 666.

mleonor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6254

Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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