May 11, 2022

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a measure recognizing congressional workers' right to form a union.

House Resolution 915 was adopted after a 217-202 vote along party lines, with no Republicans voting in favor.

The resolution was introduced in February by Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), a former union organizer, who welcomed its passage as "a major highlight" in the labor movement and put the development in the context of the recent organizing wins such as those by Amazon and Starbucks workers.

"After 26 years," he said, "the House has finally provided its workers the fundamental human right to form a union without fear of retaliation."

“Congressional staff are joining a broader movement of workers in our society who are organizing, bargaining collectively, and stepping up to make clear that they want more of a voice in their workplaces," he added. "We cannot stop fighting until every worker in the country can form a union without interference.”

Politico reported that the labor protections would apply to roughly 10,000 House employees. "And a flurry of organizing, at least in Democratic offices, is already expected in the coming days and weeks," the outlet added, "even before the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights issues official guidance on a hugely complicated process."

The Congressional Workers Union, launched in February, called the vote "a historic moment for thousands of congressional workers who have won basic labor protections to organize and bargain collectively without fear of retaliation."

The vote also serves as "a reminder of the power of collective action and what the freedom to form a union truly means—democracy not just in our elections, but in our workplaces too," the group added. "To our fellow congressional workers: today belongs to us. Tomorrow, we continue the fight—solidarity forever and onwards!"

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) also welcomed the resolution's passage, calling congressional workers "essential both to the functioning of the legislative branch and to ensuring that Congress well represents the communities we serve."

Jayapal said the measure would "make critical progress toward staff retention, ensuring that those with institutional knowledge, deep expertise, and a commitment to public service can continue to work on the Hill."

The vote came days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Friday announcement that the minimum salary for House staff would be set at $45,000.

Republished from Common Dreams (Andrea Germanos, staff writer) under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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