Unions working on 2024 Democratic convention vow no picket lines

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CHICAGO — Democratic officials and labor groups are expected to formally sign a labor peace agreement Tuesday covering the 2024 Democratic National Convention, before any such agreement is reached, according to details first provided to NBC News.

It’s also broader, including hotel workers for the first time, Democratic officials say.

The deal means the Democratic National Committee, under Chairman Joe Biden, is giving early signals that it will use union labor for any work related to next year’s convention. The unions also agreed not to picket or cause work stoppages before the big event.

It encompasses unions working around McCormick Place and the United Center, the sites of next year’s activities. Ten labor groups are signing the agreement, including the International Alliance of Stage Employees, local electrical workers unions, the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union.

“There will be no picketing for any of the DNC jobs as long as the agreements are honored,” Bob Reiter, president of the Chicago Labor Federation, said in an interview. And adding hotel workers was significant because they are primarily women and people of color, which he said aligns with Democratic Party values.

Reiter said that scrapping the agreement early «signals that people are ready to get down to business.»

Making peace with workers is no easy task in a city with a storied history of union strength, where workers have maintained their political strength, influential in sweeping mayors in and out of power.

On Tuesday in Chicago, the parties, including DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, must formally put in writing that the convention commits to using union labor «everywhere and whenever available,» according to the DNC.

“Make no mistake about it, Chicago is a union city and our convention will put it on display for all the world to see,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a statement. “This labor agreement will provide good paying jobs in communities across the city and I am excited that President Biden and the entire Democratic Party are coming to see what Chicago union workers can offer.”

The pledge is significant because Chicago stakeholders repeatedly upheld the city’s bona fides as a strong work city in its competitive bid to host the convention. That was in contrast to Georgia, which is a «right-to-work» state, meaning employers are prohibited from requiring employees to pay union dues.

It’s also an attempt by Biden to signal that he’s taking his previous commitments to be a strong union president seriously. The previously signed an executive order require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. The White House is now trying to navigate a series of labor strikes across the country, specifically by failing to intervene.

It is the first development of the convention since Biden chose Chicago this year to host it.

Biden’s campaign is ramping up, including hiring more staff members. He announced last week that he and other Democratic groups had raised more than $70 million.

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