AP NEWS

Bernie Sanders becomes first White House candidate ever to unionize campaign

March 16, 2019

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday became the first U.S. presidential candidate in the country’s history to unionize their White House campaign.

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 will represent staffers working on behalf of Mr. Sanders, Vermont independent, as he seeks the Democratic Party’s nomination to run against President Trump in 2020.

“I’m proud that our campaign is the first presidential campaign to unionize,” Mr. Sanders said on Twitter. “We cannot just support unions with words, we must back it up with actions. On this campaign and when we are in the White House, we are going to make it easier for people to join unions, not harder.”

Mark Federici, Local 400′s president, congratulated the socialist senator for “making history” and urged other politicians to follow suit.

“I hope this breakthrough serves as a model for other presidential campaigns, as well as party committees and candidates for other offices,” Mr. Federici said in a statement.

“While political campaigns aren’t the easiest work environment, every worker has the right to respect and dignity,” Mr. Federici added. “And when candidates who claim to support the labor movement practice what they preach, that sends a powerful message that, if elected, they will deliver on their promises to strengthen union rights and level the playing field between workers and employers.”

Mr. Sanders, 77, announced last month that he will seek the Democratic nomination to compete against Mr. Trump in the next presidential race, making him among the latest additions to an already lengthy list of White House hopefuls. He previously sought the party’s nod in 2016 prior to Democrats nominating Hillary Clinton to run in the election ultimately won by Mr. Trump.

Several women who worked on the 2016 Sanders campaign have since alleged they were subjected to harassment, mistreatment and gender discrimination. Mr. Sanders apologized in January, saying: “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign or any campaign should be about.”

Mr. Federici, Local 400′s president, said he expects the Sanders campaign unionizing “will mean pay parity and transparency on the campaign, with no gender bias or harassment, and equal treatment for every worker, whether they’re in Washington, D.C., Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else.”

Local 400 represents 35,000 members in the retail food, health care, retail, food processing, service and other industries in six states and D.C., according to the group.

A majority of the workers employed by the Sanders campaign have signed union cards joining Local 400, and negotiations for their first collective bargaining agreement are slated to start shortly, the group said in a statement.