Currently the only senator whose staffers have unionized is Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), but the Senate hasn’t passed its own resolution to authorize unionizing, so organizers have been unprotected by federal labor laws.
“Every worker should have a right to organize and have a voice in their workplace – and that is why I have spent my career fighting for the dignity of work,” Brown said in a statement to POLITICO. “Today, I honor my staff, both past and future, for their dedication to serving the state of Ohio. With this resolution, we can finally secure the fundamental legal right of U.S. Senate staff to join together as union members to advocate for themselves and have a voice on the job.”
The House voted in May 2022 to allow close to 10,000 of its employees to bargain collectively and form unions, including aides in personal offices, district offices and committee staff. The move under Democratic leadership expanded the rights already given to other workers in the Legislative Branch, including Capitol Police, the Library of Congress and professional tour guides. According to Demand Progress’ Union Tracker, 12 House offices have unionized so far.
But the Senate, with narrow Democratic control, has not yet followed the House in adopting its own authorizing resolution to implement the rules Office of Congressional Workplace Rights wrote as part of the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 — a Gingrich-era law passed to make Congress subject to some of the same workplace laws as the private sector. That is the legislation Brown is introducing Friday.
“We commend Senator Sherrod Brown for his championing of the congressional unionization resolution in the Senate and hope all senators — regardless of party — endorse it to allow their staff the opportunity to advocate for themselves,” said Taylor J. Swift, senior policy advisor at Demand Progress. “Providing Senate congressional staff with the opportunity to seek collective bargaining rights is a major step toward building a stronger workplace within the chamber, and therefore, within Congress.”
Other cosigners of the legislation include Sens. Markey, Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Bob Casey (D-Pa.).