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Sanders Campaign Reaches Labor Pact With UFCW on Hours, Wages

May 8, 2019, 7:35 PM

Campaign workers for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders ratified what the United Food and Commercial Workers says is the first-ever collective bargaining agreement covering a presidential campaign.

The contract reached by the Sanders campaign and UFCW Local 400 covers all non-management staff through the end of the campaign, union spokesman Jonathan Williams said. “Currently there are about 100 employees covered by the agreement, but the workforce is estimated to grow to as many as 1,000 employees at its peak,” he said.

Presidential campaign work is known for its 24/7 demands and difficult working conditions, the local said in a statement. The Sanders contract sets new standards for the field in a way that will improve the workers’ quality of life without hindering the campaign’s ability to compete for votes, it said.

The Sanders campaign said in February it would remain neutral in the union organizing campaign and would recognize Local 400 if a majority of workers signed authorization cards. They did so on March 15, making Bernie 2020 the first presidential campaign staff in history to unionize, the local union said.

The collective bargaining agreement was ratified May 2, according to the union. This “will change the way presidential campaigns are run in this country,” Bianca Márquez, a member of the campaign’s digital team, said in the union’s statement.

Working Hours, Pay, Benefits

The pact establishes a clear but flexible workweek, as well as days off each month where employees aren’t on call. It provides breaks throughout the day, including meal breaks and mandatory time off between shifts. The agreement doubles paid vacation time from 10 to 20 days per year.

The contract also sets wages and benefits along with the opportunity for employees to earn performance raises. Field organizers, who will eventually constitute the vast majority of campaign staff, will have 100 percent of their health care premiums paid for by the campaign. Interns in the national headquarters will make a minimum of $20 per hour along with full medical benefits. All hourly employees are entitled to overtime pay.

In addition to health insurance, the contract provides “broad coverage” for mental health care services, the local said.

It also puts a cap on management pay proportional to union employees’ salaries. Pay transparency provisions and a pay equity review process are available under the contract for employees who feel they’re being unfairly underpaid, the local said. Anti-discrmination provisions, as well as protections for immigrant and transgender workers are also included in the deal, the union said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Louis C. LaBrecque in Washington at llabrecque@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at snadel@bloomberglaw.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com