TALLAHASSEE — It’s a time of transition at the Florida Democratic Party.
Its chairwoman, Terrie Rizzo is on her way out after brutal 2020 election season. Party leaders have to account for losses up and down the ballot that have left Republicans in charge of almost every level of state government. And on top of it all, the party is changing how it does business.
Florida Democrats are unionizing.
The party has signed an agreement with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 824, it announced Friday.
“We are proud to have come to an agreement with our partners at (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) that will ensure (the Florida Democratic Party) continues to be a fair, safe and productive work environment that puts our workers and employees at the center of our Party,” Rizzo said in a release. “And this agreement which we have been working on throughout 2020, underscores our commitment to working people, including our own employees.”
The move makes Florida’s Democratic Party the latest party-aligned organization to unionize. The presidential campaigns of Democrats Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders were all unionized. Several other states’ Democratic Parties have also unionized, including Montana, Kentucky and Oregon.
Democrats have long counted union workers as a core constituency. The Friday release noted the party “hopes to set an example” and that hopefully “other organizations, on both sides of the aisle, will follow suit.”
The Democrats have 29 employees, but not all of them are in the bargaining unit, elections press secretary Alexandra Caffrey said. Some of the 29 are managers.
Democrats took heat from Republicans earlier this year for applying for a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program that the party said would save 100 jobs. The Democrats later said they would return the loan, which they said the federal government had mistakenly approved.
Caffrey noted that party staffing “fluctuates a ton” during election season. She said the party had more than 100 staffers earlier this year.
“This will give our employees and staff more ability to have a say in their work environment,” Caffrey said.
Caffrey noted many in the party already had experience working in a unionized environment because it worked closely with the Biden campaign, which was unionized.
When asked whether the move might make it more difficult to hire short-term, seasonal campaign workers, Caffrey said it likely wouldn’t.
“It won’t affect how many people we’re able to hire or anything like that,” she said.