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Campaign Workers Guild coming to Springfield

Friday, Feb 23, 2018

* This was sent to all House members in both parties…

Dear colleagues,

In light of the string of revelations about working conditions on campaigns and in politics generally, we are seeking ways to improve the culture of our industry.

In terms of the outstanding allegations, we believe it’s critically important that all the facts be aired, and that those who were engaged in inappropriate behavior and those who covered up that behavior be held accountable. We will continue to advocate for a process that is truly independent, transparent, and honest.

Meanwhile, we believe it’s important to consider the hard truth: we treat campaign workers poorly and offer them very little legal protection. We often misclassify them as contractors. We demand ceaseless hours of work with meager remuneration. And as we’re discovering, they have very little recourse when they feel they’ve been mistreated on the job.

As a proactive measure to help provide political workers institutional protections on the job, we’ve reached out to the Campaign Workers Guild, a new labor union of campaign staff. CWG has recently worked with the staff of Congressional candidate Randy Bryce in Wisconsin as they have won recognition for their union and ratified a collective bargaining agreement. They are prepared to present to members of the General Assembly, campaign and political staff about their work and the types of workplace protections campaign staff in our state could fight for.

The meeting will be Tuesday February 27th, from 5:30-7:30 at the Red Roof Inn (formerly the State House Inn) at 101 E Adams, in the Gallery Room. We urge you all to join us and to share this invitation with others who may be interested in learning more about the work of CWG. At the meeting, CWG will offer a brief overview of their work. Then, staff and candidates will break out into separate sessions in order for each group to be able to freely discuss their needs and concerns. Refreshments will be available, and limited travel funds may be available for staff outside of the Springfield area interested in attending. Reach out to one of us if that is an issue.

In this moment, it is critically important to focus on the facts of allegations that have been made. We feel it is equally important to take proactive steps to help prevent these kinds of abuses in the future. We hope CWG will provide a vision of how political and campaign workers can come together to work toward solutions to the workplace issues they face, and hope you will join us in hearing from them.

Please RSVP by replying directly to this email.


Kelly Cassidy
Will Guzzardi
Theresa Mah
Christian Mitchell

I know this is serious business, but the prospect of Tim Mapes negotiating with a union is making me chuckle.

Also, Speaker Madigan was asked about a campaign workers union the other day and he kinda laughed it off.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Just Me - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    Will the union have a PAC? Maybe then the Speaker might be interested.

  2. - VanillaMan - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:11 pm:

    I heard that belonging to this guild gets you Dr. Scholls gel inserts, free pens, emory boards, $20 walking money and 10% off coupons for Little Ceasar’s pizzas.

  3. - Anon - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:17 pm:

    By scheduling this in the heart of primary season at 5:30 p.m they clearly won’t be getting input from anyone currently working on an election. Why not postpone it until after the primary?

  4. - Joe Bidenopolous - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    Looks like staff dismissal for all caucuses will be a little later than normal on Tuesday.

  5. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:20 pm:

    Unionizing part time campaign workers seems a little odd to me. What would be the terms of such a collective bargaining agreement?

  6. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:27 pm:

    Excellent idea!

    ==Unionizing part time campaign workers seems a little odd to me. What would be the terms of such a collective bargaining agreement? ==

    Contingent & part-time workers are a growth area for unions (Since they tend to be more easily exploited, they have more to gain.) Grad students & adjunct faculty have been organized in higher ed. The contract might include provisions on how hours are allocated, straight-time and overtime designations, contributions to retirement, transfers between candidates, covered expenses, grievance procedures, etc.

  7. - ItsMillerTime - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:29 pm:

    @Anonymous 2:20pm

    Getting paid minimum wage for the hours they work would be a good start.

  8. - A Jack - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    They didn’t invite Rauner’s campaign staff?

  9. - MOON - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:36 pm:

    This is just CRAZY.
    Nothing more needs to be said

  10. - 47th Ward - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:36 pm:

    The union idea isn’t fully baked yet, and probably won’t be. In my view, if you are receiving a salary from a campaign, you are Management, not labor. Volunteers and voters are labor. Perhaps they should unionize.

  11. - George - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:38 pm:

    This is simple. If you don’t like campaign conditions, don’t work on a campaign.

  12. - Spliff - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:39 pm:

    How many contested Springfield races have staff? Maybe a meeting in Chicago or the suburbs would smarter.

  13. - LeonDespres - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:40 pm:

    == The union idea isn’t fully baked yet, and probably won’t be. In my view, if you are receiving a salary from a campaign, you are Management, not labor. Volunteers and voters are labor. Perhaps they should unionize. ==

    Not sure your idea of who unions exist for (workers, and no, overseeing volunteers doesn’t make you “management”) is fully baked yet. Very excited about the work of the CWG.

  14. - PJ - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:43 pm:

    ==This is simple. If you don’t like campaign conditions, don’t work on a campaign.==

    Pretty sure that’s the whole idea. They don’t like campaign conditions (which are awful), and aren’t going to keep doing it without some basic protections in place.

    If the best talent organizes, are you going to be the candidate the hires the no-experience schlub who’ll still work for $8 an hour 80 hours a week?

  15. - Dooooooooode - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    Think we just jumped the shark

  16. - Just Visiting - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    So let’s say campaign workers unionize… and say a candidate supports right to work for instance. Could the workers picket their own candidate for a hardline stance against unions? :)

    The idea of unionizing campaign workers is flat out comical which leads me to believe it will probably happen in Illinois

  17. - City Zen - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    ==Unionizing part time campaign workers seems a little odd to me.==

    I was once a part-time worker and unionized. My union even withheld pension contributions from my part-time checks.

    I think this is a good idea. And unions could show their solidarity by withholdding contributions to candidates unless their staff was unionized. $15/hr wages, portable retirement plans, paid maternity leave. Go CWG!

  18. - A Jack - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:51 pm:

    Drury said during the arbitration bill vote that union’s shouldn’t give away to strike. So if his campaign workers go on strike the week before the election, he is okay with that?

  19. - Texas Red - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    Go for it - not sure many GOP workers would vote to certify. This might have the potential to make Dem elections more expensive compared to the GOP ones .

  20. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:52 pm:

    Campaigns are abusive environments for the most part. Either that is ok or it’s not. If it’s not ok, please tell me how you protect the 22 yr old making 2k a month who is working sometimes more than 100 hours a week.

  21. - Anon - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 2:53 pm:

    This will be interesting. I can already hear the Rauner commercials. Actually, they will write themselves as we listen to the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the politicians.

  22. - dbk - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:01 pm:

    Golly, I tweeted Bustos, Ammons, and Mendoza last week about this, suggested it might be “one small step” … with the link to The Intercept’s feature story on CWG.

    Probably no connection, of course, but still it’s nice that somebody else saw the possible benefits of unionization in addressing harassment.

  23. - hot chocolate - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:04 pm:

    People act like its a hilarious right of passage. But campaign workers are treated like absolute trash. 12 to 14 hour days 7 days a week for below minimum wage. There’s no reason for it except the greed of politicians, the outrageously long campaign cycle, and the mentality of “too bad kid that’s how we had to do it”. That’s the same logic used for fraternity hazing rituals and shouldn’t be the basis for employment of semi-professional and in many cases, very-professional people. And now, let the “oh stop whining, you knew what you were getting into” comments from the campaign ‘pros’ that comment on here begin.

  24. - Shytown - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:13 pm:

    Sorry but dumbest idea ever. Not every ill in the workplace can be solved by unionizing. The last place you can get stuck with a staffer who doesn’t end up getting the job done is a campaign. What if they don’t agree with a position the candidate takes? What if they do a crap job in the field? So many what ifs. You can’t risk that.

  25. - low level - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:27 pm:

    We definitely have gone crazy - jumped the shark as said earlier - on the left. Dumb.

  26. - Grandpa2 - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:37 pm:

    dbk–”possible benefits of unionization in addressing harassment”—How well did that work out for Ford employees?

  27. - George - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:38 pm:

    “12 to 14 hour days 7 days a week for below minimum wage. There’s no reason for it except the greed of politicians, the outrageously long campaign cycle, and the mentality of ‘too bad kid that’s how we had to do it’.”

    Um, they’re paid little because the campaign has to spend its resources on ad, mail pieces, phone lines, and signs. It’s 12 to 14 hours for 7 days a week because there is a lot to do in a finite about of time.

    This is what happens when we give every kid a trophy. Everyone think’s they’re the hero, and no one is willing to be the grunt.

  28. - City Zen - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:40 pm:

    @George - A big fan of the “race to the bottom” model, I see.

  29. - Jon Zahm - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 3:52 pm:

    Ridiculous. The only solutions Democrats seem to be able to come up with are more unions and more taxes.

  30. - Anton Cermak - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 4:10 pm:

    I blame Shakman.

  31. - Underpaid campaign worker - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 4:13 pm:

    How pro-union of the Speaker

  32. - George - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 4:16 pm:

    @City Zen. No, I just think this is ridiculous. Campaigns are hard because you’re trying to persuade people. You focus all your resources on trying to spread your message. This involves human interaction with voters who mostly hate you because you’re working for a politician, who they will point out constantly are the worst people in the world and are responsible for everything wrong in the voter’s life. It is thankless, tiring, exhausting, humiliating, stressful, anxious, impossible, maddening work. People who can’t stomach it quit and quit early. But when it’s over, if you stick with it, and you win, it seems like it was all worth it. You don’t do it for the pension and vacation policy.

    The Democrats are going insane. At the same time we have Trump, a Republican Congress, and Rauner, people like Rep. Cassidy are gunning for Madigan, who seems to be the only Democrat in the country who knows how to mobilize a winning organization. And why? Because she thinks campaigns are too hard. I hope Rep. Cassidy’s campaign ends up hiring all the people who show up this meeting to complain. Then she’ll lose her election and we’ll be done with this grandstanding.

  33. - low level - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 4:25 pm:

    Zahm- Many Dems opposed. Try reading and not simple repetition of nonsense. Thx.

  34. - dbk - Friday, Feb 23, 18 @ 4:26 pm:


    I think I figured out the case you’re referring to.
    (1) I didn’t suggest, either in my tweet or comment, that unionization could be the sole means of addressing harassment (remembering too that sexual harassment is only one sub-category);
    (2) I seriously doubt the reps of an IL campaign staff union would display the same gender breakdown as that of the UAW Local 551.

    Nobody’s saying it’s not a huge issue, as we have been reading about on this blog for a good while now. And no single solution is going to magically do away with harassment.

    Not being unionized certainly hasn’t done away with it.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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