Digital Democratic firm to unionize

Digital Democratic firm to unionize
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Rising Tide Interactive is the latest Democratic shop to form a union.

The pro-worker effort, first reported by The Hill, came after management and rank-and-file staff seeking expansive protections for its workforce agreed on a vote. 

The progressive digital firm is joined by SEIU Local 500, a Washington, D.C.-based union that has reached several successful bargaining agreements with outside groups during the early months of President BidenJoe BidenMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Dole in final column: 'Too many of us have sacrificed too much' Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 MORE’s administration.

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“Organized labor has been a cornerstone of the Democratic Party,” said Stephanie Grasmick, the CEO of Rising Tide Interactive, which works with various unions, nonprofit organizations, down-ballot campaigns and committees promoting Democratic politics.

Grasmick said the agreement ensures that all staff have “a seat at the table.”

The internal decision comes nearly a year out from the midterm elections, where Democrats will have to guard the hard-fought majorities they won in Congress last year.

That has prompted a variety of political consultancies and outside advocacy groups to continue to tweak their election playbooks, particularly in areas that require an intense amount of collaboration from staff, like organization, mobilization and fundraising. 

That is especially challenging at a time when many workers are still remote.

During the 2020 presidential election, leadership and lower-level employees alike at Democratic outfits strategized about how to win at the top of the ballot in the unprecedented era of COVID-19, when the bulk of party business was conducted virtually.  

That conversation has now carried into Biden’s first term, with campaign workers and operatives still thinking through how to persuade and inspire voters remotely ahead of 2022.  

The decision to unionize means staff will have more guaranteed protections during a prolonged time of heavy workloads, increased stress and routine uncertainty from the pandemic.  

“Being part of a union will ensure that all staff, including staff of color, LGBTQ+ staff, staff with disabilities, and cycle hires, have a voice,” said Adele Ackert, a strategist with the group. 

In August, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) linked up with the SEIU’s D.C.-area branch to unionize in a high-profile decision that had been in the works for months. 

The joint agreement came amid mounting pressure from staffers who argued that leadership within the party apparatus needed to practice the same principles within their own ranks that they espouse for fellow Democrats throughout the county.  

“Too long Democratic campaigns have treated most staffers in their campaigns as an afterthought,” said one progressive strategist and former campaign worker in touch with union leaders. 

“They pay an absurd amount of money for beltway staffers to sit in campaign offices and discuss strategy. But pay the folks implementing those strategies very little, and too often, nothing at all,” the strategist said. 

That appears to be shifting, albeit sporadically, within the party as a heightened consciousness of fair employment standards and equitable pay has become a part of Democrats’ broader agenda. It also comes as a staunchly pro-union progressive wing has found a louder voice and has been met with less resistance in Biden’s Washington.

After the DNC announced its union, Blue State, a top digital fundraising firm, said that it had come to an agreement that added new protections around compensation, diversity and benefits. 

And EveryAction, a tech nonprofit working to streamline the online donation process, received the support of the Communication Workers of America, one of the most prominent media unions nationwide. 

Beyond individual groups, unions have also played a critical role in promoting Biden’s expansive budget plan. 

The $3.5 trillion figure originally backed by the president has the support of local and national unions representing working people from sectors like education and health care. 

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While that dollar amount is expected to be lower in the final version, due in part to stalling from key moderate lawmakers on Capitol Hill, union representatives have been explicit in their pitch that a multitrillion-dollar package is essential to tackle socio-economic problems. The SEIU, in particular, has dropped $7 million on ads targeting the few Senate Democrats who have argued that figure is too large, according to a recent report by The Wall Street Journal. 

Rising Tide Interactive’s leadership is hoping to build on the growing union movement that has proliferated under Biden.

“The staff at RTI works to help progressive candidates and causes win elections and achieve their goals,” said Helen Luryi, the group’s lead content strategist. “Our clients work to bring about a more just and democratic America, and we want to ensure that our workplace embodies those values as well.”