Minnesota students unionize while working political campaign
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — University of Minnesota students working on two political campaigns have negotiated a contract to unionize.
Student staffers with Omar Fateh’s campaign have contracted with the Campaign Workers Guild, Minnesota Daily reported . Fateh is running for the Minnesota House of Representatives.
The students used Rep. Erin Murphy’s campaign for governor as a model during contract negotiations. Students hope unionizing will create a balance between their campaign roles and their university commitments.
The contract gives students benefits such as an education stipend and time off for exams and papers, said university student Austin Berger, the union steward for Fateh’s campaign.
“As student workers, we’re one of the most marginalized demographics in the labor community,” Berger said. “This unionization solidified respect and dignity for workers.”
Students can often be overwhelmed by campaign work, said Isaiah Ogren, a university student and worker on Fateh’s campaign.
“We’re trying (to) create the same protections for campaign workers that pretty much every other sector of the economy enjoys,” Ogren said. “And we think this is particularly important for students because if students don’t have protections, what incentive is there for them to enter and stay in public service?”
It’s unique for a campaign to have a bargaining unit solely of students, said Ihaab Syed, secretary of the Campaign Workers Guild.
“I think in many cases students are classified as interns or fellows and don’t have security that any other worker would have,” Syed said. “They want to stand together and say ‘we’re already being treated like employees, and we want to have a voice.’”
Fateh said he’s supportive of the students’ decision to unionize and that his relationship with his workers has become stronger.
“It’s a blessing,” Fateh said. “I have a strong team and I’m proud of what they’ve done.”
Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/