The work of legislative staff is often overlooked. These people work hard to steer legislation and policy while also acting as the point of contact who schedules appearances and connects the public with their representatives.
IBEW Local 89 Business Representative and Organizer Tony Ruiz joined AWF Union Podcast with legislative aide to Oregon State Senator Michael Dembrow Logan Gilles to provide an update on an organizing drive and why legislative staff deserve workplace representation.
What does a legislative aide do?
Gilles said legislative staff in Oregon typically consists of one person, regardless of workload. The legislative session can last six weeks in some years and six months in others, meaning the workload varies by year.
He explained how he does everything from shaping policy to acting as a first point of contact for constituents and scheduling appearances and more.
Gilles explained how he has worked with Senator Dembrow since 2009 and has formed a quality relationship with him. In his time, they have worked in tandem to push pro-worker legislation such as paid sick leave, expanded apprenticeship requirements for public contracts and more.
IBEW Local 89 involvement
Ruiz said IBEW Local 89 is unique because it is apolitical, meaning they do not endorse candidates, do not have a PAC and do not make campaign contributions.
However, Local 89 identified the long-discussed need to organize legislative staff in the state. He said the plan has been in discussion for a while now, culminating in talks that began in summer 2020. They are excited that the details are being pinned down and a vote should happen in the coming month.
The two discussed difficulties, citing very little other than some attempts by anti-union lawmakers who have questioned the constitutionality of the organizing drive.
Despite any difficulties, Ruiz and Gilles are mutually excited for the vote, which they believe will be successful.