On July 25, campaign workers at Nevada Democratic Victory secured IBEW 1245 union representation. This new bargaining unit is made up of about 40 field organizers and regional organizing directors who work to mobilize voters in Nevada. As campaign organizers, they are hired early in an election year, with non-traditional schedules and workloads that grow increasingly more and more demanding until the election is over, at which time they are laid off and move on to other campaigns.
Notably, this unit joined IBEW 1245 through a voluntary recognition agreement. This means that, rather than first building majority support by signing authorization cards and then demonstrating that majority again in a separate union election, the workers gained representation based on cards alone. Nevada Democratic Victory agreed to accept the cards as proof of support for organizing and recognized the union voluntarily, without the drawn-out and often contentious election process. Cordial, cooperative union-employer relations likes this are far too uncommon in organizing, but ultimately show a greater level of respect for the rights of workers.
Nevada Democratic Victory is a statewide coordinated campaign organization, working to elect many of the same candidates that the labor movement endorses in Nevada. In fact, this fall, many of IBEW 1245 members will be volunteering for some of the candidates that NDV supports, because they stand behind Local 1245’s legislative goals. By having pro-worker, pro-IBEW electeds in office, our union has been better able to protect our members’ jobs in Nevada by fighting deregulation and other unsound energy policy. But though NDV’s staff may have similar goals, these workers haven’t enjoyed the same worker protections, benefits and advocacy that we have through our union.
Some important background: 2020 was a big year for campaign workers organizing into unions throughout the country, and IBEW was at the forefront of this movement. Staff from three presidential candidates’ campaigns chose IBEW representation. So too did workers from many state party coordinated campaigns, including Georgia, Idaho, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maine, Mississippi, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada (the latter of which organized into Local 1245). When these workers leave their unionized campaigns and begin to work at new ones, they carry their experience with the IBEW to their new campaigns, cross-pollinating this sector with new pro-union attitudes and experiences.
We experienced this first-hand earlier this year, when a campaign organizer from Nevada Democratic Victory reached out to Local 1245. He had been represented by another IBEW local on a 2020 campaign, and wanted to explore the idea of unionizing at his new employer. Some of our members might think, “What would campaign organizers see in an electrical workers’ union?” But these workers have the same wants and needs as any of us — fair schedules with properly announced changes, equitable and transparent pay that keeps up with the cost of living, and an effective way of handling grievances. We negotiate over and make progress on these issues every day. It’s clear that vigilant representation and exceptional bargaining success have come to define the IBEW as the right choice.
After a series of Zoom meetings and many one-on-one conversations, the workers at NDV decided to say Yes to Local 1245 and began signing authorization cards. Once an unmistakable majority had committed to organizing, we petitioned the campaign with a letter seeking voluntary union recognition, and it wasn’t long before the process was complete. To verify our majority support to the employer, Nevada State Senator Chris Brooks graciously assisted us as a neutral third party. Senator Brooks compared the authorization cards to a list of workers provided by NDV, affirming that a majority of employees had chosen IBEW while protecting their confidentiality.
The newly minted unit has shared their bargaining agenda with 1245 Business Rep Adam Weber, who is leading negotiations with the campaign’s executive leadership. With their effort, I have no doubt IBEW 1245 will remain at the forefront of the movement to improve wages and working conditions for campaign workers nationwide.
–Rick Thompson, IBEW 1245 Lead Organizer