“The Democratic Party believes that when workers are strong, America is strong. Democrats will make it easier for workers, public and private, to exercise their right to organize and join unions.” – Democratic Party Platform
On Friday, the North Carolina Democratic Party Staff Union announced via Twitter that the NC Democratic Party refused to voluntarily recognize its union for the party’s staffers. The staff union stated it was “disappointed NCDP hasn’t voluntarily recognized our union & bargaining unit after giving notice of our union over 3 weeks ago.”
The irony of this situation should be lost on no one. For a party that claims to be pro-worker and pro-union, you’d think the Democratic Party would be elated at the promise of a labor union for their staffers. One would presume the party would want to jump at the media opportunity to cut a deal with the staff union as soon as possible – including the vast mental health leave policies, extended paternity leave, and a bare-minimum $15/hour wage for which the party frequently advocates.
This matter is not merely ironic; failing to voluntarily recognize the staff union would go against the Democratic Party’s expressly written policy platform. The staff union has stated that a majority of NCDP staff have agreed to form the union. When presented with union-authorization cards collected from a majority of employees, an employer can choose to recognize a union voluntarily; this is called a “card check.”
The Democratic party platform states, “Democrats will [emphasis added] recognize unions with majority sign-up—via ‘card check’ processes.”
The NC Democratic Party Staff Union is working with the Campaign Workers Guild, founded in 2017, which is a national organization dedicated to establishing unions of campaign workers across the United States. The Campaign Workers Guild is the same organization that established the Missouri Democratic Party Staff Union. The Missouri Democratic Party ended up being charged with unfair labor practices against a negotiations leader for the Missouri staff union. What’s more, The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported former Democratic Party employees also accused party leaders of “trying to sabotage a unionization effort… even as Democrats actively courted support from organized labor.”
The NC Democratic party could do without the union-buster optics of the Missouri Democratic Party going into this November election. Especially as recent polling suggests, the party is at a disadvantage compared to Republicans this cycle.
The staff union stated it had a meeting with NC Democratic Party management on Monday and would provide updates, but neither the NC Democratic Party, the North Carolina Democratic Party Staff Union, nor the Campaign Workers Guild have announced any agreement between the union and the Democratic Party. For the sake of the party’s image, Democrats should pick up the pace and hurry to announce the party’s voluntary recognition of the staff union. Waiting even this long has already garnered the “party of labor” significant backlash on social media.
The College Democrats of North Carolina tweeted at the official NCDP account, “We can’t advocate for unions and pro-worker policies if we don’t start with our own party’s staffers.” A former staffer for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, JD Mazuera Arias, asked, “How can @NCDemParty be the party of unions and the working class yet not practice what they preach?” And former Dan McCready staffer Aaron Daum also called out the hypocrisy, stating, “NCDP has talked the talk on labor rights. It’s time for them to walk the walk and voluntarily recognize @NCDemsUnion.”
If the Democratic Party refuses to voluntarily acknowledge the union through the card check process, the union will have to contact the National Labor Relations Board to set up a secret-ballot election. If the majority of ballots cast (not necessarily the majority of employees) are in favor of the union, the Democratic Party will have to begin negotiations with the union. However, even after unions have won a majority of ballots cast in a secret election, negotiations for union contracts can continue for years until a resolution is reached.
Brenée Goforth is the Communications Associate at the John Locke Foundation.