The House of Representatives has passed a resolution allowing employees to join unions for the first time following talk of low pay, fatigue and other workplace frustrations.

  • The House of Representatives has passed a resolution authorizing workers to form unions.
  • Each member’s office and committee should form their own unit.
  • It’s a victory for Hill employees, who have been claiming greater power to improve working conditions.

For the first time in the 233-year history of the Chamber of Commerce, the House of Representatives passed a resolution allowing workers to start union activities Tuesday night.

The vote passed 217-202 with Democrats and Republicans.

Organized workplaces with enough offices and staff could dramatically reshape the balance of power between the members of parliament and the staff who now hold all the cards.

“This resolution provides an opportunity for more than 9,000 workers to join a union without fear of reprisal.” Andy Levin, a sponsor of the resolution and former labor organizer, told Insider in a prepared statement. “I am proud to be able to provide these results to the staff of the entire House of Representatives.”

Congress passed laws allowing employees to form trade unions in 1995, but the House and Senate first had to pass resolutions extending legal protections for legislative employees. Neither Senate did so until the House of Representatives passed a resolution on Tuesday. Some parliamentary institutions, such as the Library of Congress, are already represented by trade unions.

This resolution applies only to individual members of the House of Representatives, committees, and employees of the Office of Nonpartisan Support. The Senate has not considered a resolution that will affect workers, and it is unclear whether it will do so before the midterm elections.

The resolution would not create a union for parliamentary staff. Rather, it extends legal protections to employees, preventing reprisal against employees if their superiors choose to unionize, effectively giving House of Representatives employees permission to initiate public organizations.

that much parliamentary unionIn an interview ahead of Tuesday’s vote, Lee, who spearheaded the resolution’s push, praised the effort.

A member of the Congressional Workers’ Coalition said, “We want to ensure that the next generation of Congressional workers is better served than us, so they can better serve the American people and meet the needs of our voters.” .

(Anonymity has been granted to union representatives in Congress due to concerns that insiders could face professional retaliation against the organization. Their identities are known to insiders.)

The passage of the resolution initiates an unprecedented process in which each member’s office, committee, and staff from eligible non-partisan offices must form their own units. With 435 individual legislative offices and dozens of eligible committees, the process can take months, if not years, to complete.

The US Congressional Workers’ Union, currently operated as an independent union, will act as an umbrella organization supporting individual bargaining units.

Employee Victory is the latest in a growing trade union effort by Democrats to organize the workplace, including campaigns, party organizations, and private political firms.

state of parliamentary confederation

Lawmakers and journalists wait outside the Senate's Democrats luncheon for lawmakers to appear.

Staff and journalists wait outside the Senate Democrats luncheon for lawmakers to appear.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Tuesday’s legislative victory culminated in the underground organization of the Congressional Workers’ Union and its allies to gain more power over working conditions.

It also details the workplace horror story that took place inside Congress Hall, following a more than two-year anonymous account posted by Instagram account Dear White Staffers.

The union organizing committee was unveiled in February after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to a reporter’s question and said she would support the union of House workers. Shortly thereafter, the Congressional Workers’ Union began working with its allies, and Levin signed the resolution as a supporter.

Levin confirmed to insiders that he had worked with Congressional Trade Unions to get the bill passed, but declined to comment on the details, citing a desire to protect the organizers’ identity.

Capitol Hill employees have endured salaries starting in the low $20,000s for many years, and many are working side jobs to make a living. Agencies have few reliable methods for employees who have experienced sexual harassment or other forms of workplace abuse. The possibility of being blacklisted in politics for having a voice over members or managers has helped reinforce a culture of silence about bad behavior.

Congressional unions included about 30 members during their existence, mainly Democrats. It began these efforts when the pandemic and the January 6 uprising had a profound effect on the mental and physical well-being of Hill employees. Insider has reported on the widespread burnout and mental health issues that Congressional staff have experienced over the past year given the impact of long-term epidemics and workplace problems.

The stress that year seems to have paid off measurably. In 2021, Hill’s employee churn rate was the highest in 20 years, up 55% from 2020. According to RegistomTrack data on the parliamentary workforce.

Another member of the parliamentary union told Insider “there was a perception that one day this was not going to just change.” “The legislators aren’t going to wake up one day and decide to pay their employees a living. It was necessary to come together collectively and demand this change.”

“One way we do that is through unions,” the man said.

Are you a capitol employee trying to organize an office or committee? We’d love to hear from you. Email reporter Kayla Epstein. [email protected]

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