Jess King Becomes the Second Congressional Candidate Nationwide Whose Campaign Workers Have Unionized

In Pennsylvania's 16th Congressional District, Jess King's campaign workers announced that they have unionized.

Jess King leads protestors in opposing Trump's infrastructure plan in Washington D.C. on Feb 15, 2018. Photo: Jess King

Wisconsin Democrat Randy Bryce’s campaign workers shocked the political world when they became the first congressional campaign to announce that they had unionized. The candidate went even further, saying he would welcome not only his campaign staff unionizing, but would back congressional staff doing so as well.

The organizing drive was led by the Campaign Workers Guild, a group of former campaign workers who are working with campaigns nationwide.

Now, a second congressional campaign has announced that it, too, has unionized.

That campaign is for Jess King in the 16th District of Pennsylvania. She’s one of four Democrats who are competing in a May 2018 primary, the subject of a recent Intercept article on Democratic primaries between progressive and centrist Democrats. King startled longtime Pennsylvania politicos by relying on small-dollars to out-fundraise her opponent in the final quarter of 2017.

“We’re thrilled to see organizers across the country responding to our call for unionization,” said Meg Reilly, a spokesperson for the Campaign Workers Guild, told The Intercept in a statement. “For too long, electoral campaigns talked the talk when it came to treating workers with respect, but failed to do right by their own staff. We’re proud to see candidates like Randy Bryce and Jess King buck that trend, and stand up for fair and safe working conditions for all organizers.”

King is in Washington for a candidate event hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which works to boost candidates outside of the establishment sphere.

“Candidates and campaigns preach progressive values, but it can be hard to live those values in our work when campaigns are so short term and uncertain,” said Julia Eddy, fundraising and finance associate for the King campaign. “This union allows us to have the same guarantees as other union workers even in an unorthodox working environment. I’m especially proud of the focus this union has on sexual harassment policies and protecting workers from both harassment and retaliation.”

King told The Intercept in an interview that she was encouraged by her staff organizing.

“I thought it was cool,” she said. “These are the principles we fight for in terms of policies. Why shouldn’t we live it out?”

Like Bryce, King also said she would agree with efforts by congressional staff to unionize.

The Intercept reached out to Christina Hartman, the primary candidate who has the support of the Democratic establishment. Her campaign chair Mike Wilson said that if the campaign team decided to organize, the candidate would support them.

“Christina Hartman has spent nearly 20 years empowering people around the world to organize and advocate for their rights,” Wilson told The Intercept. “That’s one of the reasons why she’s earned endorsements from labor unions throughout PA-16. If our campaign team decided that we wanted to organize ourselves and form a union, she would definitely support us.”

Top photo: Jess King leads protesters in opposing President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 15, 2018.

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