In Our Opinion: Legislative Staffers deserve a union

Staffers of the state assembly announced that they are trying to get union recognition, as City and State first reported last month. We believe that they deserve recognition.

The move follows organizing efforts by staffers of the state senate to be recognized as the  New York State Legislative Workers United group. 

As reporters who engage with these offices regularly, good staff are the unsung heroes of a successful politician. Many staffers who work these jobs often can’t afford to live in the district they are representing despite long hours and demanding work. 

Behind every good policy proposal, solving constituent services complaints or positive perception of a politician is a hardworking staffer.

“Far too many of us can barely make ends meet, regardless of our office, credentials, seniority, or responsibilities. Most of us work long hours, including late nights and weekends, and our overtime is unpaid. Compounded by the rising cost of living these factors disadvantage employees from less privileged backgrounds and make long-term careers with the Assembly increasingly difficult to manage,” a Jan. 17 letter from New York State Legislative Workers United, explaining their want for a union.

If we want New York’s brightest to keep working in government rather than go to the private sector, a union is the best way to ensure they are able to stay for the long haul. If we want the staff to reverse the economic and racial diversity of our city, having a union to secure decent wages is of utmost importance.

This is especially true when the legislature voted at the end of last year to boost their own salaries by 29%, making them the highest paid legislature in the country and netting them an $142,000 annual salary. 

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