Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.
Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. JOHN BOAL

Of course you can.

Seattle Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal's campaign staff has unionized with the Campaign Workers Guild.

The employees join a small but growing number of campaign staffs that have organized with the union. The movement has drawn attention to the low pay and demanding hours of campaign work—particularly among candidates who claim pro-labor bona fides on the campaign trail.

But until now, the campaign workers joining the guild have been working to elect Democrats who aren't yet in Congress, like Randy Bryce, the ironworker challenging House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Jayapal's is the first staff working on the campaign of a sitting member of Congress to join the union.

Jayapal's three-person campaign staff has already negotiated a contract covering issues like pay and reimbursements for travel. The contract includes pay bonuses after primary and general election wins and a new progressive discipline policy for campaign staff that includes multiple warnings before a staff member is fired. The contract also includes severance, rest and meal breaks, and reimbursements for travel and other expenses, according to the union.

"It’s not a symbolic achievement," said Shaun Scott, a field organizer for the campaign. "There are things that substantively we were interested in having addressed and protections we needed. But we also understand that Pramila’s platform is as big as it is for a reason… We knew anything we did would be taken as an example by other campaigns and campaign staff."

In its mission statement, the Campaign Workers Guild calls out the Democratic Party as "a champion of labor rights, except where its own laborers are concerned."

"We, as campaign staff, believe that campaigns cannot fully fight for workers’ rights while they’re exploiting their own campaign staff," the statement says. "Pro-labor candidates must hire unionized organizers; if they don’t, they’re not pro-labor."

In a statement, Jayapal was supportive of the move. "I’m glad that our team has taken this step and hope that we can serve as a model for other campaigns and political organizations around the country," she said.

Jayapal, who is in her first term in the U.S. House, faces an easy path to reelection this year against this Republican nobody.