Connect with us


Washington campaign workers uniting for better pay, benefits


(March 12, 2021) — For too long, campaign workers have been the exploited gig workers of politics. Unpaid internships, grueling hours, toxic and unsafe workplaces, lack of health care, and low wages have been the norm. Democrats, purportedly the major party of workers, have talked a big game, but many of the people who fueled their campaigns haven’t enjoyed the protections a unionized workspace provides.

This is finally changing. Across the country, campaign workers are beginning to unionize—and with the Washington Campaign Workers Collective forming a union with the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT) District Council 5, the time is ripe for political campaigns in Washington state to get organized.

The staffs of the Washington State Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Oregon have unionized with IUPAT. Last fall, the campaign staffs of folks ranging from U.S. Senate candidate Al Gross (D-Alaska) to Washington State Representative candidate Tarra Simmons (D-Bremerton) were unionized. And this fall, campaign staffs for municipal candidates should consider joining together with the Washington Campaign Workers Collective as well.

In Seattle, so far just one campaign for mayor has unionized: Andrew Grant Houston, queer architect of color and Interim Policy Manager for Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda. He voluntarily recognized an employee union for his campaign staff.

“Providing workers with fair wages, collective bargaining protections, employer-paid health care, and the many other benefits that come with being a union member is part of living our values,” Houston said.

I used to be a campaign worker. From 2010-2016, I worked on multiple campaigns in several states. One of the reasons I left the industry was the consistent lack of protections across various campaign workplaces — and the hypocrisy. Far too often candidates claim to stand for higher wages, better health care, and worker protections, all while denying these to the very workers helping to get them elected.

If you’re going to talk the talk, you need to walk the walk.

If their campaign staffs want to join together in a union, candidates for municipal office this fall should voluntarily support their wishes. To do otherwise is to ignore the principles they stand for.

Whether you’re currently employed on a campaign, or you’re a student or organizer currently looking for employment, you can sign a Union Card today with the Washington Campaign Workers Collective to help build power and fight for regional workplace standards for campaign workers.


Conor Bronsdon is a former member of OPEIU Local 8 and a former campaign worker in Washington state and elsewhere. You can see more of his writing on his website



► From Crosscut (Oct. 27, 2020) — WA election campaign staff protest working conditions, poor pay — A collective of campaign workers across the state says its members are tired of working long hours with no job security or health care.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!