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City Council staff aim to create new union

| Feb 4, 2020 | Union Representation |

A group of staffers at New York’s City Council is organizing to seek union recognition at work. There are around 400 people who work for the Council, and organizers are seeking to get over half of these workers to commit to joining the new union. The staffers are creating a new labor organization, unaffiliated to any larger union. So far, the group has been collecting around $25 per person from each staff member interested in joining, and they are planning a fundraiser at a bar close to the City Hall location where they work.

The director of the City Council’s Progressive Caucus is involved in the effort, and the workers hope that Council Speaker Corey Johnson will agree to recognize the union voluntarily after they gain majority support. He has previously expressed support for the staffers, who plan to name the union the Association for Legislative Employees. After they achieve this voluntary recognition, they plan to file legal paperwork to be certified as a labor organization. Various staffers over the years have worked to organize a union, but the efforts have fizzled out.

However, organizers say that worker concerns have received more attention after a Council member involved in a scandal retaliated against staff who cooperated with an ethics investigation. Most union organizing efforts involve existing unions, even creating new divisions of historic labor organizations. However, the City Council workers are part of a tradition of new, independent unions among public sector employees. In 1969, public workers formed the Organization of Staff Analysts, a large, independent union that has continued to grow.

Employees in widely varied environments, from legislators’ offices to online publication to retail stores, may benefit from the collective rights obtained through organizing. Workers seeking to organize on the job may consult with a labor lawyer about how they can win union representation.