Biden campaign, in first for presumptive nominee, announces union contract with staffers

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In a first for a major party's presumptive presidential nominee, Joe Biden's campaign on Monday announced a collective bargaining agreement with its staffers in a deal with Teamsters Local 238, an Iowa-based chapter of the powerful labor union.

The contract sets up six-day work weeks for Biden campaign field organizers, establishes a $15 per hour minimum wage and mandates that workers are paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a given week. Additionally, field organizers will get medical and vision coverage financed entirely by the campaign.

According to a joint statement released by the Biden campaign and Teamsters Local 238, the terms of the agreement will increase field organizers' wages by about $1,900 on an annual basis.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks after being endorsed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at a campaign rally Monday, March 2, 2020 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks after being endorsed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at a campaign rally Monday, March 2, 2020 in Dallas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)

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"For the first time in history, the campaign staff for a presumptive nominee of a major political party will be covered under a union agreement that includes overtime pay for all hours worked after 40 in a week, 100 percent employer-paid health insurance, a six-day work week, a union grievance procedure and other protections afforded by a union contract," Teamsters Local 238 Secretary-Treasurer Jesse Case said. "We are pleased to announce that Biden for President field organizers, represented by Teamsters Local 238, have ratified a collective bargaining agreement effective May 1."

While Biden is now the first presumptive nominee of a major party to operate his campaign under a collective bargaining agreement, he is not the first candidate this election cycle to have a unionized workforce. Biden's Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., saw his staffers unionize in March of last year before approving a collective bargaining agreement a little less than two months later.

Sanders' campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, hailed the lawmaker as being “the most pro-union candidate” among the 2020 field and said they’re “honored that his campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce.”

A little more than a year later, the Biden campaign is touting its pro-union credentials in the wake of the ratification of the agreement with its field organizers.

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"Since the campaign launched, Vice President Biden has been clear that if his staff chose to unionize, he would be fully supportive of that effort," Maju Varghese, the Biden campaign's chief operating officer and senior adviser, said. "We are proud that our campaign continues to live out the values that have defined Vice President Biden's career."

Other Democratic contenders in the 2020 election cycle, including former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, also indicated that they would support unionization by their campaign workers despite the fact such a move could increase costs for campaigns, which run on donations from supporters.

Overtime is one expense that has the potential to run up the total on unionized campaigns' payrolls, as field organizing work traditionally entails long, grueling hours knocking on doors, phone banking, planting yard signs and more.

Fox News' Madeleine Rivera, Paul Steinhauser and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.