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Democratic workers form union, seek more time off 11 weeks before Election Day

With ballots going out in a month, paid staff for state party coordinated campaign asks for fairer wages, more time off; Murphy campaign team has not sought to unionize

By David Wildstein, August 16 2021 12:02 am


Gov. Phil Murphy with members of his re-election team and staffers for NJ Forward 2021, the state party’s coordinated campaign. (Photo: Eric Noah Gross).

Recently-hired staffers for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s coordinated campaign have unionized and is seeking to negotiate more time off and higher pay between now and Election Day.

The NJ Forward 2021 Union said the campaign leadership has voluntarily recognized their union, which will be part of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).

“We began the negotiation process in early July and are happy to report that we have received a positive response regarding time off and health benefits for our staff,” the union said in a statement posted online.  “We look forward to continuing negotiations next week with hopes of finding common ground on fairer wages.”

It’s not clear what the staffers are looking for, beyond pay raises after a relatively short amount of time in New Jersey.   With eleven weeks to go before Election Day, time off may be an unrealistic goal as Democrats begin turning out voters next month and face nine days of early voting in October.

It’s also unclear whether the campaign staffers believe they were being paid wages that are unfair.  NJ Forward 2021 staffers were hired with health benefits, the New Jersey Globe has learned.

Either way, it looks like some young staffers aren’t 100% focused on Murphy winning a second term — at least not without assurances of some down time.

“There is no doubt about our party’s deep commitment to organized labor and working families,” said Brooklynne Roulette Mosley, the coordinated campaign director.  “Forward 2021 understands workers’ rights and we look forward to continuing a collective bargaining process with our employees.”

The union of young seasonal employees will go out of business on November 2.

The NJ Forward 2021 coordinated campaign is separate from Gov. Phil Murphy’s re-election staff and is where most of the field staff is employed.  There has been no attempt by Murphy’s staff to unionize.

“Murphy for Governor is still open to the unionization process,” said Mollie Binotto, the campaign manager.

The New Jersey Globe has asked Murphy about unionizing campaign staffs several times since 2019 and he has said he’d be willing to consider it.

There’s an important distinction for the two distinct campaign arms: while Murphy for Governor is subject to a $15.6 million cap on campaign expenditures, the coordinated campaign may spend whatever it can raise.

That means a unionized Murphy campaign could result in less funds to spend on television and other communications.

The coordinated campaign is bringing in a number of out-of-state staffers to run their field operation.

By organizing with the OPEIU, the NJ Forward 2021 team passed over the Campaign Workers Guild, a fledgling union that has organized staffers for U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kelly, presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon in recent years.

Jack Ciattarelli’s campaign staff or employees of the Republican State Committee have not attempted to organize a union.

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