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Beto O'Rourke's campaign team ratifies historic union contract, the first statewide union campaign in Texas

Ed Sills
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COPE-endorsed candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke’s partnership with the labor movement in building a better Texas has added yet another dimension — ratification of a contract by his campaign staff, speaking up together through Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 277.


  The milestone for 129 staffers in organizing, canvassing, press, scheduling, data, coordination, events, finance and other roles marks the first time a statewide campaign in Texas has run with a union contract.


  O’Rourke joins a growing list of political candidates — some in Texas — who recognize staffers laboring long hours in a high-pressure political environment should have a voice in the workplace.


  This is terrific news for the labor movement and particularly for the Texas AFL-CIO staff, which takes pride in the state federation’s union contract, also bargained through OPEIU 277. 


  Texas AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Leonard Aguilar said O’Rourke’s recognition of and fair bargaining with the union backs up his support for a fair shot agenda for working families in Texas.


  “Beto O’Rourke’s support for workplace benefits for all Texas workers, for good unionized climate jobs tied to the fight against climate change, and for civil rights that affect all working Texans is matched by how he acts toward his own campaign employees,” Aguilar said. 


  “Beto is spreading a pro-worker message to all who will listen, showing up across the state and taking no voter for granted. Beto is fighting for working families and we will continue to fight like hell for him.”


  In shining star fashion, an OPEIU 277 news release compliments O’Rourke for following through on his advocacy for working families:


  “We are proud to join the labor movement and to be the first Texas statewide campaign to unionize,” said Rocio Durney, an organizer on the campaign. “Like Beto, we practice what we preach. We want to send a message that every worker in this state should have the right to demand better wages, benefits, and working conditions. We want to join them in that fight.”


  The contract introduces overtime pay, a five-day workweek, paid time off to vote early, severance pay, gas stipends and an additional week’s salary as a bonus if O’Rourke wins in November. It also includes important clauses on safe working conditions, parental leave, protections for immigrant workers, and establishes arbitration and grievance procedures.


  “We are incredibly excited to represent the staff of Beto for Texas. Having a voice on the job is critical and joining together to form a union remains the best way to accomplish that,” said Tyler Turner, president of OPEIU Local 277.


  “When an employer respects their employees’ right to form that union, it’s a win for all involved,” Turner continued. “We appreciate Beto for Texas voluntarily recognizing this union and look forward to the partnership. We would also like to thank CWA District 6 for their hard work and collaboration throughout the process.”