Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » The pros and cons of a campaign workers union
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
CapitolFax.com
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
The pros and cons of a campaign workers union

Monday, Mar 5, 2018

* My Crain’s Chicago Business column

According to OpenSecrets.org, a total of $6.5 billion was spent nationwide on the 2016 campaign by presidential and congressional candidates.

Closer to home, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform says $134 million was spent on state legislative races in Illinois during the 2016 cycle and an additional $11 million or so on the special election for Illinois comptroller.

A huge chunk of that money is spent on advertising, which is incredibly expensive.

A smaller portion goes to campaign staff. Most of those workers are grossly underpaid, vastly overworked—regularly logging 80-hour weeks and even more—and too often treated like rented mules. Toward the end of campaigns, some candidates even decide to put all the cash they have left into advertising instead of paying their workers. As former campaign spokesman Lance Trover recently wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, with tongue only partially in cheek, life for campaign workers “is nothing short of a living hell.”

Enter the Campaign Workers Guild, a newly formed union that has so far negotiated contracts with a couple of Democratic congressional campaigns, one in Wisconsin and one in Pennsylvania. The union was in Springfield on Feb. 27 to talk to a handful of campaign staffers about the benefits of union membership.

We’ve talked about this topic before, but the rest of the column is something I haven’t written about until now, so click here and read the whole thing before commenting, please. Thanks.

Also, I noticed something the other day as I was preparing to write this column. I’d earlier posted two videos of the campaign union’s press conference and one of them got 362 views, which is pretty successful for such a long video of a mere press conference with three reporters. I didn’t think it would get anywhere near 100.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

29 Comments
  1. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:27 am:

    It will be interesting to see how many candidates are willing to “walk the talk.” A fair wage? Reasonable hours? A safe work environment?

    And, if they argue that each campaign is a lone entity, have they expressed support for unionizing workers at fast food franchises?

    Let’s drop the hypocrisy and see who actually supports the rights of workers.


  2. - Maybe - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:29 am:

    Well said. Perhaps …being sarcastic…this would give them (politicians) a view of the other side…Perhaps learning how to treat peeps in a responsible manner or even as a fair share dues payor would or could be the new standard…Accountability across the board… Actually…. now.. I tbink its a great idea..


  3. - anon2 - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    == Maybe it’s just time to start treating people better.==

    We can’t count on most employers to do that voluntarily. It’s not until workers have a voice that working conditions significantly improve.


  4. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:33 am:

    I remember when you got paid in cash, which was a killer at tax time, and when health insurance was something only rich campaigns provided. We’ve come a long way baby.

    But treating people well is more than decent wages, hours and insurance. Campaigns don’t need unions to treat people better, they can and should be doing that already.


  5. - PJ - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:34 am:

    A guild card is the way to do it. You can’t individually unionize every campaign, there’s too many. But you can get all the talent (and there’s not a huge pool) to get a guild card so that prospective employers know that hiring those people comes with the expectation they’ll negotiate reasonable working conditions.


  6. - PJ - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:35 am:

    ==Campaigns don’t need unions to treat people better, they can and should be doing that already==

    Sure. But just like in every other abusive work situation in history, it’s not going to happen until it’s forced to happen.


  7. - blue dog dem - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:38 am:

    “Fair wage”. I wonder how much that is, if you had to hand out material or talk on the phone saying how Bruce Rauner has done a good job and deserves a second term. Is there enough money in the world?


  8. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:40 am:

    PJ, that’s not true. I’ve worked on dozens of campaigns and have never felt mistreated. In my experience, campaigns that treat staff poorly are the exception and they are rare cases.

    For a union to be successful it has to offer something of value to campaigns. I don’t see what that is yet.


  9. - Texas Red - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:44 am:

    like in any other job search, you have to interview the company or in this case the campaign just as much as they interview you.


  10. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:48 am:

    ==For a union to be successful it has to offer something of value to campaigns. I don’t see what that is yet.==

    One possibility would be to organize like the Building Trades with training and apprenticeships.


  11. - Blue dog dem - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:50 am:

    I would like to see a campaign limit on staff. A small one.


  12. - Bothanspied - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:51 am:

    I wonder if there will be forced union dues /snark


  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:54 am:

    contrarian view: most (volunteers) know, or should know, the hell that is campaign work. It is not forced labor - they can quit. That goes for paid staff as well. On the other hand, if a candidate doesn’t do everything possible to show thanks, gratitude and understanding, they are idiots.


  14. - SaulGoodman - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 10:56 am:

    **For a union to be successful it has to offer something of value to campaigns. I don’t see what that is yet.**

    That’s… not how unions work. A union’s job is not to provide value to the employer. It is to protect workers.


  15. - Demoralized - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:03 am:

    ==I would like to see a campaign limit on staff.==

    Why do you care how many staff a campaign has?


  16. - PJ - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:06 am:

    ==I’ve worked on dozens of campaigns and have never felt mistreated.==

    That’s good, and I’m not saying that sarcastically. But you’re lucky. I think most campaign vets on here would not recount the stories of living in supporter housing, working 90 hours a week for $10/hour with fondness.


  17. - City Zen - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    ==It is not forced labor - they can quit.==

    You could apply this reasoning to any other job.


  18. - Been There - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    One issue that could be a problem is how the work rules are written as to who does what. Most union contracts have rules on who can preform certain duties. Obviously campaigns rely on volunteers also and the unionized workers contract might spell out only those covered by the contract can preform those duties.


  19. - A Jack - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    I can see possibly a campaign workers union being a benefit for the workers if it increases the likelihood of fair pay.

    I never knew campaign workers were paid. That might entice me to look at campaign work to supplement my retirement income after I retire. Good exercise, pay, possibly union benefits, it certainly beats being a Walmart greeter.


  20. - Reaganing - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:09 am:

    Anyone spending 80 hours a week in a campaign office is doing it wrong. I’m tired of the antiquated thinking that you have to hunker down in these offices. To do what? If your volunteers and interns are gone why be there? People are overweening themselves for no reason. You’re an at will employee. Underpaid, maybe but it’s essentially an entry level position. I’m hearing of people making mid to upper 30s. That’s in line. If you’re an at will employee and don’t like it, quit. I think there is a lot of dated thinking on campaigns but unionizing is not the fix.


  21. - SueFromSandwich - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:12 am:

    Unions should refuse to give campaign money to candidates who don’t use union staff. That would either force the democrat party to unionize or learn to live on only trail lawyer money.


  22. - Pot calling kettle - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    ==most (volunteers) know, or should know, the hell that is campaign work. It is not forced labor - they can quit.==

    Seriously? That is the argument the right uses to disparage regulations covering worker safety, the minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, any unionization, etc. It’s BS.


  23. - Honeybear - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:22 am:

    I am proud that they are
    Seizing the means of production.


  24. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:32 am:

    ===You could apply this reasoning to any other job. ===

    And to Janus.


  25. - Amalia - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    Maybe a good idea. But it’s not just staff at the end of the campaign and pay issues. I have encountered lots of vendors and consultants who get stiffed. People talk. Then there is the “we’ll get you another gig to get paid” when they haven’t paid you for the current circumstances. Ending a campaign without debt is a good idea.


  26. - Miss Marie - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 12:27 pm:

    It’s pretty easy to pick out what commenters have never worked a campaign before or have only worked on the easy ones before. It’s almost amusing.

    ==Anyone spending 80 hours a week in a campaign office is doing it wrong. I’m tired of the antiquated thinking that you have to hunker down in these offices.==
    ====It is not forced labor - they can quit.==

    Lol have you never worked a close race before??? There is always something more to do on campaigns and there are not enough hours in a day. There’s data to enter, lists to run, volunteers to call…

    And, yeah, campaign workers can quit, and then what? Unless you’re related to someone, you have a really hard time getting your foot in the door in politics or government. The last campaign I worked on, I would wake up every morning with dread, and tell myself that I only needed to stick it out a little longer and it would be worth it once I got a real job.

    One last point–about “interviewing the employer.” I have worked for some of the best candidates out there who cared about my wellbeing. But that doesn’t matter if the machine hires the campaign manager or field director, because that individual cares about results, not your wellbeing. And yes, the candidate should know what goes on in their own campaign, but most times they don’t. The manager or director know how to fill you with guilt if you want to distract the candidate, or scare you about being black listed.


  27. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 2:44 pm:

    Why stop with campaign staff. They could amend current law to allow legislative staff to unionize!


  28. - Responsa - Monday, Mar 5, 18 @ 3:36 pm:

    If somebody had told me about this campaign worker unionization effort over coffee– and if I had not just seen this piece posted on Capfax linking a Crain’s article with Rich’s byline– I’d honestly have thought it was The Onion.


  29. - Blue dog dem - Tuesday, Mar 6, 18 @ 6:52 am:

    How about all campaign material printed by union.printers as well as all campaign goodies manufactured in the USA.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Harold and Raoul battle it out at the Tribune
* Rauner talks about gaming and marijuana
* Rauner makes his pitch to Crain's
* "Spare me the mea culpa"
* CBS 2 fact-checks new Rauner digital ad "JBahamas Bank"
* AFSCME's latest contribution to Madigan appears to be its largest ever
* Question of the day
* Rauner claims "moderation" is how "Illinois can be saved"
* Chicago poll looks at positives, negatives of new candidates
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Paid Rauner consultant appears in new Rauner TV ad
* Thirteen months later, Pritzker still hasn't kept his promise to release his "full" tax plan
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

Support CapitolFax.com
Visit our advertisers...

...............

...............

...............

...............
<


Loading


Main Menu
Home
Illinois
YouTube
Pundit rankings
Obama
Subscriber Content
Durbin
Burris
Blagojevich Trial
Advertising
Updated Posts
Polls

Archives
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005

Syndication

RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0
WordPress




Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller