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Staffers at eight House offices become first to unionize

Congressional workers at eight House offices at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., have started the process of unionizing. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/bc8eaf9147d5475da1a1f5a640a49ede/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Congressional workers at eight House offices at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., have started the process of unionizing. Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

July 18 (UPI) -- Congressional workers at eight United States House offices have started unionizing, two months after the House approved a resolution giving them legal protection to organize.

A total of 85 House staff workers filed petitions Monday for representation at the Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, according to the Congressional Workers Union which called it a "historic day for congressional staff and our democracy."

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The staffers work for eight Democratic members of Congress: Rep. Cori Bush of Montana, Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia of Illinois, Reps. Ro Khanna and Ted Lieu of California, Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Rep. Melanie Stansbury of New Mexico.

In February, Congressional staffers formed the Congressional Workers Union after an Instagram account called Dear White Staffers shared anonymous stories about low salaries and retaliation.

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"For far too long, congressional staff have dealt with unsafe working conditions, unlivable wages, and vast inequity in our workplaces that prevent Congress from properly representing the communities and needs of the American people," the group said in a statement. "Having a seat at the bargaining table through a union will ensure we have a voice in decisions that impact our workplace."

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Congressional workers were granted bargaining rights in 1995 with the passage of the Congressional Accountability Act, but those rights needed the passage of a second resolution. The House approved Rep. Andy Levin's, D-Mich., resolution May 10 allowing staffers to bargain collectively and triggering a 60-day interim period, which ended Monday.

"I am so proud of the staffers who made a historic move today in seeking union recognition in eight officers with over 70 workers in the House," Levin said Monday in a statement. "I am incredibly humbled and honored to have played a modest role in helping realize the hard work of congressional staff who fought to make this moment possible."

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The Congressional Workers Union said it plans to move toward a vote quickly.

"We look forward to voting enthusiastically 'Union Yes' in the coming weeks and sitting down at the bargaining table with our bosses," the group said.

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