News & Commentary

September 28, 2022

Sarah Leadem

Sarah Leadem is a joint degree candidate at Harvard Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

In today’s News and Commentary: Congressional staffers form the first-ever union, more Congressional offices hold union elections, and the last remaining rail union signs a tentative agreement. 

Staffers in the office of Democratic Congressmember Andy Levin voted unanimously to unionize. While staffers voted last week, the union announced the results on Monday. This marks the first union election in Congressional history. Congressmember Levin expressed his support for his staff, applauding their “bravery and initiative.” This successful union election was enabled by a resolution passed by the House this last May–sponsored by Congressmember Levin–that now allows Congressional staffers to unionize. Senate staffers, however, still lack the right to form a union. 

Several more union elections are soon to come within Congressional offices. As previously reported, up to eight other Congressional offices have petitioned for union elections. This week alone, two other offices will take their vote: California Congressperson Ro Khanna’s staff vote today (September 28) and Minnesota Congressperson Ilhan Omar’s staff vote on Thursday (September 29).

The last major railroad union has signed a tentative agreement with the freight rail industry. Yesterday, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) announced it had reached a second tentative agreement, after members rejected the first agreement reached in August. The proposed agreement includes a 24% pay raise together with additional benefits, including a cap on healthcare costs and the right to bargain with individual railroads on other expenses. This announcement allays concerns of a strike–for now. It also ushers the IAM into the agreed upon “cooling off period” in place now until December 9th. In light of this tentative agreement, all unions in the freight railroad negotiations have now ratified or are in the process of ratifying new contracts.

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