“The introduction of a resolution to grant Senate staff unionization rights long available to workers across this country is an important step toward strengthening Congress,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress. “We commend Senator Sherrod Brown and all senators supporting this important resolution to improve congressional workforce rights. A year of successful unionization efforts in the House has demonstrated that when congressional staff have a seat at the bargaining table, it results in higher wages, better benefits, and a healthier workplace. All staff — including those in Senate and Joint offices — must be afforded these same protections.”
After a House Administration Subcommittee hearing focused on the personal rather than the institutional aspects of the Office of Congressional Ethics, we take a deeper look at why that office is vital to an ethical Congress.
Congressional unions scored an historic win for committee staff and others.
This week both chambers are in session through Friday after the Juneteenth holiday.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee plans to complete markups for the Agriculture and MilCon/VA bills at the funding levels set by the debt ceiling agreement, teeing up a conflict with House Republicans who are reneging on the deal. Meanwhile, House Appropriators will have a full committee markup on Wednesday for Leg Branch and Homeland Security, and on Thursday a full committee markup for Defense and Energy & Water.
Senate Armed Services Committee will have a series of closed hearings on the NDAA while the House will hold its markup of the bill Wednesday morning.
The Congressional Data Task Force will hold a quarterly meeting on Thursday from 2-4 PM in B-248/B-249 Longworth. If you care about congressional data, this open meeting is for you. RSVP and catch up on what happened in March.
A bipartisan quartet of members have circulated a Dear Colleague letter inviting cosponsors for the PRESS Act, an important journalist shield law, which the House passed unanimously last Congress but was blocked by a lone senator on a spurious basis. In light of the recent death of American hero Daniel Ellsberg, who told the truth about Vietnam at the risk of his freedom, we should make sure that the government cannot compel the press to spill on their sources.
Today, several congressional offices — including the House Education and Workforce Committee’s Democratic staff — have filed union petitions in the House. Staffers in Reps. Val Hoyle, Sylvia Garcia, and Mark DeSaulnier have all recently filed union petitions while a majority of staffers in the offices of Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano, Sean Casten, and Dina Titus have each formally voted to form unions.
“We commend the courageous congressional staff — including those on the House Education and Workforce Committee — who are organizing to create better working conditions on Capitol Hill, especially in the wake of new House Rules aimed at rolling back the rights of House staff to unionize,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress. “These offices continue to pave the way for Congress to be a more fair and democratic employer that can better attract and retain a workforce reflective of our nation.”
In a report released earlier this year, Demand Progress Education Fund analyzed the House Rules for the 118th Congress and affirmed the right to unionize by congressional staff following the passage of H.Res.1096 just over a year ago. We continue to urge the Senate to pass a similar resolution approving unionization for staff in the chamber.
“Unions in the House of Representatives in the 118th Congress,” a new report released today by the Demand Progress Education Fund, analyzes how the new House Rules aimed at rolling back the rights of House staff to unionize fall short of achieving that purpose. Its analysis shows House staff can assert their rights to organize unions in the 118th Congress. The report was written by Kevin Mulshine, former Senior Advisor and Counsel on the first staff of the Office of Compliance/Office of Congressional Workplace Rights.
The report explains in detail the employee protections under the Congressional Accountability Act — a Gingrich-era congressional workplace law that allowed Legislative branch staff to unionize — and how that law applies today. House political and non-political staff earned the right to unionize last year with the passage of H.Res.1096.
“House staff can assert their rights to organize unions in the 118th Congress,” said Kevin Mulshine, special advisor to Demand Progress Education Fund and author of the report. “Contrary to what the House Rules may have intended to proscribe, staffers who want to exercise their rights to collectively organize should have little fear of a loss of legal protections for their actions.”Continue reading “Demand Progress Education Fund Affirms Right to Unionize by Congressional Staff in New Analysis of House Rules that Sought to End Unionization”
Today, the staff for Senator Markey’s office took the unprecedented step of seeking voluntary recognition of their effort to unionize. Although the House of Representatives in the 117th Congress granted its employees the ability to exercise their rights to collectively negotiate, the Senate has yet to take similar action. Demand Progress supports Senator Markey’s staff and the right for every Senate and joint congressional staffer to unionize.
“We applaud the staff of Senator Markey for seeking voluntary recognition for their nascent union,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor of Demand Progress, a non-governmental organization focused on strengthening our democracy that led a broad coalition to advocate for the right of congressional staff to unionize in both chambers and pushed for higher staff pay and benefits.
“Seeking union recognition can be a difficult and intimidating process, but it is a crucial step towards securing workers’ rights and protections. The staff of Senator Markey’s office have shown courage and determination in their decision to unionize, a right federal employees, including those at the Architect of the Capitol, Library of Congress, and Capitol Police, have enjoyed have enjoyed for decades.
We urge Senate leadership to introduce a resolution in accordance with the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 to support Senate and joint congressional workers in their right to collectively negotiate without fear of retaliation. Providing these protections to all congressional staffers will foster a safer and more equitable workplace.”Continue reading “Demand Progress Extols Senator Markey’s Staff for Seeking Voluntary Recognition of their Union, Urges Senate to Introduce Resolution Allowing Senate and Joint Staff to Unionize”
1/ Speaker Pelosi’s husband was violently assaulted in their San Francisco residence.
• At the time of writing, we do not know the motives of the assailant. However, it would not be surprising if the ultimate aim was to harm Speaker Pelosi. In this newsletter we have previously discussed the concept of stochastic terrorism, which is “the public demonization of a person or group resulting in the incitement of a violent act, which is statistically probable but whose specifics cannot be predicted.” We condemn all acts of violence, and incitement to violence, against elected officials and their families. We wish Paul Pelosi a speedy and full recovery.
• Political violence is sometimes used as a reason to overreach and curtail political speech. We acknowledge the importance of allowing for criticism of the policies advanced by a politician. Bad political actors have demonstrated a remarkable facility with the use of dog whistles, however. They generate veiled calls for or support of violence that increases the likelihood of violence in such a way as to create some doubt about what they are doing. The traditional media has largely been unable or unwilling to cover this appropriately, and partisan media and partisan actors have amplified these calls.
• We wonder about the role of the extraordinarily well-funded U.S. Capitol Police in this incident. It seems plausible that one of their most visible protectees was a target regardless of whether she was actually present. What does it say about security for other Members of Congress in their homes, workplaces, and elsewhere? What does it say about the USCP’s ability to detect, deter, and address threats? We stand by our concerns that structural problems with the leadership and oversight of the USCP create a fundamental risk to the safety of Congress, a problem that cannot be resolved by throwing money at the problem. We have yet to see any real reforms at the USCP or its oversight board.
• We realize that Congress’s most likely reaction will be to shovel more money at the Capitol Police. The overall funding level for the Legislative branch can’t handle these hundred-million-dollar annual increases for the USCP without undercutting the ability of the Legislative branch to function by constraining funds for all other purposes. (There’s a $100 million increase in the works when the delayed appropriations bill becomes law.) We’d suggest that some of the USCP’s funds start coming from another appropriations subcommittee, like Defense or CJS, because their work includes responding to terrorism and crime threats.Continue reading “First Branch Forecast for Oct. 31, 2022: Improving Congressional Tech”
Our continuously updated tracker lets you monitor the unionization movement in Congress, including which House offices are unionizing, which members of Congress supported the PRO Act and the resolution allowing House staff to collectively bargain without fear of retaliation, and more.
Today, the House is marking a major milestone that will forever change the rights of staff as recently-approved Office of Workplace Rights regulations permitting unionization go into effect.
“Staff in the House of Representatives work long hours at low pay to meet the needs of the American people and we are pleased they will finally be able to enjoy a crucial right long available to workers across the country: the right to collectively organize to improve their working conditions,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director at Demand Progress. “Providing House political and non-political staff the ability to join a labor union, an effort a quarter-century in the making, illustrates one avenue to transform the institution from within, as Congress’s ability to function well depends on a well-trained, expert staff devoted to making our democracy work for all. Additional work remains, including extending these labor rights to Senate political staff and some support agency staff currently excluded from collective bargaining laws.”
Demand Progress Education Fund hosted a virtual event on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, titled “The Power in Unions in Congress: Know Your Rights.” The event featured recorded remarks from Representative Andy Levin, lead sponsor of the House congressional unionization resolution.
Panelists helped clarify what rights and protections will be granted to congressional staffers, what will happen when staffers officially unionize their offices, and also discussed the history of the unionization movement in Congress.
The distinguished panel included:
–Katherine Tully-McManus, Politico Huddle (moderator)
–Rep. Andy Levin, lead sponsor of the House unionization resolution (opening remarks)
–Jeff Friday, general counsel at the National Federation of Federal Employees
–Kevin Mulshine, former counsel at the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights
–Yvette Piacsek, deputy general counsel at National Federation of Federal Employees, IAMAW, AFL-CIO
–Taylor J. Swift, policy advisor at Demand Progress (event host)
Watch the full discussion below.
How does unionization work in Congress? What’s the history behind this congressional unionization movement? What rights will be granted to me as a congressional employee?
There’s a lot of information — and misinformation — out there. With the July 18 deadline for the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights to implement the resolution that grants House staff the right to organize quickly approaching, Demand Progress Education Fund is convening several government labor experts to discuss various rights and protections offered to staff to empower congressional staff with the knowledge they need to successfully implement unions in the House of Representatives.
Join Demand Progress Education Fund for a virtual briefing that will include remarks from Representative Andy Levin and top government labor experts on making unions work in Congress. Panelists will clarify what rights and protections will be granted to congressional staffers, what will happen when staffers officially unionize their offices, and will also discuss the history of the unionization movement in Congress.Continue reading “Event Announcement – The Power of Unions in Congress: Know Your Rights”