What is collective bargaining?
Collective bargaining is a process where we come together as campaign workers to negotiate the terms of our employment into a legally binding contract. This right is protected by federal law, and it helps to equalize the power imbalance between workers and management. Through collective bargaining, we can negotiate improvements in wages, hours, benefits, and terms and conditions of employment.
Without collective bargaining, campaign management has unilateral power to change our conditions or decide whether or not to make improvements. For example, a candidate who preaches the need for single payer healthcare could decide to invest more money into ad time rather than contribute to a healthcare plan for their own workers. Without a union, workers would have no say in that decision. However, through collective bargaining, we can hold candidates accountable to practice what they preach. And, we can ensure that we as campaign workers are treated fairly and with respect.
Why are we forming a union?
We frequently move across the country for candidates we believe in. Too often, we work over eighty hours a week for less than minimum wage. We routinely pay for office supplies, gas, and basic campaign materials out of our own pockets without a clear reimbursement policy. And too many of us put up with sexual harassment because we don’t have a way to report it and get help.
The Campaign Workers Guild is necessary to ensure that campaign workers have the same protections on the job that the progressive movement champions. We are the backbone of every campaign, and we have the power to make or break a campaign. We are professionals who should be empowered to demand fair working conditions for ourselves. We, like all workers, deserve basic labor protections, especially from candidates who claim to be “pro-labor.”
Why haven’t campaign workers formed a union until now?
Campaign work is transient. Campaigns usually last only a few months, and elections don’t happen year-round in any given place, so campaign workers are always on the move. Though we have often discussed poor work conditions, it’s difficult to organize against a particular employer because campaigns are so short-lived and our work is all-consuming.
Furthermore, we are expected to sacrifice ourselves for the cause. For many years, the prevailing viewpoint among campaign staff has been that terrible work conditions are the price we must pay for the future we believe in. That future has never materialized for campaign workers. We are demanding it now.
Why should campaigns pay more for organized labor when people are willing to work under these conditions?
The argument against labor protection has always been “but people are willing to work under these conditions.” There’s a big difference between being willing to work with perfect freedom of opportunity and being willing to work when one has limited options. Many organizers love electoral work but feel obligated to accept exploitative work conditions out of devotion to the candidate or the cause. Brand-new organizers are often not informed about the work conditions when they sign their contracts and, unfortunately, they come to accept the way things are because they haven’t had a union to protect them and to help them fight back.
This results in talented workers leaving the industry for stabler, better paying jobs. High burnout rates mean that campaigns constantly have to train brand new organizers. If we truly want to win elections, we need to treat campaign workers with dignity. Unless we invest in campaign workers, the movements we work for will be unable to retain experienced organizers and will continue to lose out on our valuable skills, experience, and connections.
Who is going to pay for this?
In 2016, presidential and congressional campaigns alone spent $6.5 billion. An endless sea of money is dumped into advertisements and consulting firms, even as the workers who are entrusted with the candidate's campaign are underpaid, overworked, and undervalued. It is time for campaigns to support the working people who put them in office.
THE CWG HAS A COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT WITH SO-AND-SO FOR U.S. SENATE. DOES THIS MEAN YOU'VE ENDORSED THEM?
No. The Campaign Workers Guild's primary concern is, and always will be, the well-being of campaign workers. Regardless of candidate or campaign, we support the unionization of campaign workers. Negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with a candidate or campaign does not equal our political endorsement in any way.
Who can join CWG?
Anyone who has worked on an electoral campaign or ballot initiative in the past and supports our cause is eligible to become a CWG member. You can join even if you don’t currently work on an electoral campaign.
Even if you’re not a campaign worker, you can help us build this. We’d love to have our allies from management recognize that labor conditions on campaigns are terrible and support their workers if they choose to unionize. If you’re a member of a political or labor organization, we could use your help in building this movement. And if you’re a public supporter empathetic to our cause, please help us spread the word about our mission and our victories.
Together, we can and will change the campaign industry for the better.
is this only for electoral campaign workers?
Nope! We work with both electoral and issue-based campaigns, and other campaign-adjacent workplaces, like political consulting firms. If you're unsure whether your worksite falls under our umbrella, just reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
is this only for field staff?
No! While clipboards are heavily associated with the door-knocking folks, this is for all campaign departments (e.g. digital, data, communications, operations, political, advance, et cetera).
How do i unionize my campaign?
If you're a campaign worker, head over here for the next steps! If you're a candidate or campaign management, we'll want the workers to reach out to us directly.
What are dues? How much will they cost?
Union dues represent our collective power as the Campaign Workers Guild. CWG is a self-funded, member-run organization. Your dues make this organization possible. When working for a unionized campaign, dues are $30 per month. If you’re not currently working for a unionized campaign, dues are $10 per month. Dues go towards helping us communicate and organize to build our union. As a dues-paying member, you can vote in CWG elections, become part of our professional network for training purposes, and get early access to job postings for campaigns across the country.
What about strikes?
While a strike is a last resort, we do not rule out the possibility of strikes or other organized actions in order to ensure safe and fair working conditions for all.