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New House leaders want to stop congressional staffers from forming unions

Photo Credit: Collection of the U.S. House of Representative
New House leaders want to stop congressional staffers from forming unions
By Pete Levine ·

Like workers in Amazon warehouses, Starbucks coffee shops and other workplaces across the country, congressional staffers have joined the millions who are fighting for a voice on the job.

Congressional staffers, who help lawmakers craft laws and serve their constituents, have spoken out about wages so low they can’t afford to live in Washington, D.C., about poor – and sometimes hostile – working conditions, among other grievances.

Their efforts had begun to coalesce during Congress’ last session, when a resolution was passed allowing the workers to unionize and when, in September, Michigan Rep. Andy Levin’s staff ratified their first contract under the independent Congressional Workers Union.

AFSCME President Saunders expressed support for the congressional staff, saying in a statement last year, “AFSCME stands proudly with the Congressional Workers Union in their fight for recognition and fair treatment, and we call on members of Congress to do the same.”

However, if it’s up to the incoming House leadership, the workers’ nascent unionization push will be over before long.

According to the House Rules package released at the beginning of January, GOP leadership hopes that by banning House labor unions, they’ll make the house more “transparent” and “effective.”

And while the rules governing whether the new leadership can quash congressional staffers’ unionization efforts are complicated, what’s crystal clear is that AFSCME will stand in solidarity with those workers – and any others – who’re seeking a voice on the job.

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