Bernie Sanders’ influence on politics over the last two election cycles is undeniable. In 2016, his policies and grassroots campaign pushed Hillary Clinton to the left. In the run-up to 2020, as his 2016 policies influence debate in a crowded field, his campaign will become the first to unionize, according to media outlets including CNN.
Sanders staffers will be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400, and all employees beneath the rank of deputy director will be eligible to join its bargaining unit. A majority of Sanders’ 44 union-eligible campaign staffers signed union cards.
“We cannot just support unions with words, we must back it up with actions,” Sanders tweeted from his campaign account. “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.”
In response to the campaign’s decision, and possibly in reference to reports of sexual harassment and pay discrepancies during Sanders’ 2016 campaign, Local 400 President Mark P. Federici issued a statement. “We expect [the decision] will mean pay parity and transparency on the campaign, Federici said, “with no gender bias or harassment, and equal treatment for every worker.”
With a bargaining unit that could reach 1,000 members according to Reuters, negotiations are set to begin soon.
Much like Sanders’ policies in 2016, the campaign union could put pressure on Democratic candidates to follow suit, especially those looking to pry progressive voters from Sanders in 2020. Having already expressed interest in a similar move, Julian Castro’s campaign could soon be the second campaign to unionize.