The New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s coordinated campaign have agreed to demands made by field organizing employees of the newly-formed NJ Forward 2021 union, which could vote to ratify the agreement as early as this week.
The staffers – many young seasonal workers who began arriving in New Jersey after being “on boarded in May or June – had sought additional compensation and more time off during multiple extended bargaining sessions.
“We are happy to have reached an agreement in principle with our employees on unionization. Forward 2021 leadership respects the collective bargaining process,” said Phil Swibinski, a state party spokesman. “We look forward to continuing our work supporting Democrats throughout the state and making New Jersey stronger and fairer.”
While the state party declined to address specifics of the new labor agreement, the New Jersey Globe has learned that part of the plan will be to keep employees on payroll into next year to compensate them for long hours over the next eleven weeks leading into Election Day.
“Our requests encompassed protecting at least a day off each week through GOTV,” the union organizers said on the Twitter account. “Sustainability is a priority, and we are grateful leadership agreed.”
Three NJ Forward 2021 employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation said that the director of the coordinated campaign, Brooklynne Roulette Mosley, encouraged staffers she hired to organize, suggested an affiliation with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), and helped to formulate some of the demands made by the union members.
Mosely, who came to New Jersey earlier this year after working on Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign and leading Texas Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign in 2020. declined comment, referring questions to her spokesman.
Staffers now typically work weekends and have Mondays off. Among their asks – it’s not clear if they were granted – was a stipend for the use of their personal computers. In some cases, where new employees are moving to the state to work on the campaign, they are being put up in hotels.
The union said on Monday that they wanted to “find common ground on wages that accurately reflect high short-term cost of living in New Jersey and to guarantee staff are appropriately reimbursed for campaign-related activities.”
The entire coordinated campaign team were not necessarily on the same page, one of their members said.
“Not all of us wanted this fight. Please don’t think everyone supports the demands. Many of us though the list was ridiculous,” one coordinated committee staffer said. “Not everyone thinks we’ve been treated unfairly. There are a lot of us who are really grateful for the opportunity.”
The three staffers confirmed that offers of employment contained competitive compensation and health benefits, disputing their union’s contention that they were seeking “fairer wages.”
“This isn’t my first campaign, so I knew what kind of hours campaign work involved,” another staffer said. “They made me a fair offer up front, and I didn’t feel like that had not be renegotiated.”
But all three pushed back on the idea that they had somehow pinned the state Democratic Party into a corner.
“That’s not how it was,” the same staffer said.
Still, multiple Democratic leaders, while supporting the concept of unionizing political campaigns, privately bemoaned the decision of relatively new staffers taking their fight public during a general election campaign.