Union for political campaigns expands to New Mexico

Deb Haaland

The staff for Democratic congressional candidate Debra Haaland in New Mexico has unionized under an upstart national guild for election-campaign employees, announcing a new contract Monday that was negotiated through collective bargaining.

The contract secured by the Campaign Workers Guild includes a minimum $15-an-hour wage for part-time workers and a $3,000 minimum monthly salary for full time staff, along with workplace guarantees that include procedures for reporting sexual misconduct, according to campaign staff and a union official. Additional terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Angie Poss, a field director for Haaland’s campaign, said collective bargaining was an opportunity for staff and the candidate to live by the values they espouse.

“We’re leading by example,” Poss said. “We don’t just support the right to unionize, we support our own rights and are taking that power into our own hands.”

She insisted the campaign will remain competitive as Haaland seeks the Democratic nomination to succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is running for governor.

“You don’t have to work 80 hours a week on a campaign to be effective,” Poss said.

Haaland’s campaign employs four people, with an additional employee on leave for graduate studies.

Launched in February, the Campaign Workers Guild has made inroads into the often high-pressure environment of election campaigning. It represents workers in 13 political campaigns with the addition of Haaland’s staff — including nine congressional campaigns from Pennsylvania to California.

Haaland said she embraced her staff members’ proposal to unionize, and that it fits with her support for a higher federal minimum wage and better guarantees for paid family leave and sick pay.

“I thought was a great idea for us to walk the walk,” she said.

Campaign Workers Guild Secretary Ihaab Syed described a work culture among many political campaigns that often tolerates long hours and haphazard work and living arrangements.

She said the guild does not share an affiliation with other unions but receives guidance and promotional support from other labor organizations.