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  • U.S. Presidential Candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in New York.

    U.S. Presidential Candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally in New York. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 March 2019

Self-declared socialist democrat Sanders said on Twitter he was "proud that our campaign is the first presidential campaign to unionize."

United States presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s campaign announced Friday that their workers are unionizing, the first U.S. presidential campaign in history to do so.

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“Bernie Sanders is the most pro-union candidate in the field, he’ll be the most pro-union president in the White House and we’re honored that his campaign will be the first to have a unionized workforce,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said in a statement.

Sanders, a democratic-socialist and staunch supporter of unions, said on Twitter he was "proud that our campaign is the first presidential campaign to unionize."

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 will represent the campaign workers as Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont, seeks the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Mark Federici, president of Local 400, said in a statement he hoped "this breakthrough serves as a model for other presidential campaigns, as well as party committees and candidates for other offices."

A majority of Sanders' campaign workers signed a union card by Friday, triggering the union's recognition, the union said. All campaign employees below the rank of deputy director will be represented by the union, which said the number could grow to more than 1,000 members.

The next step is for the campaign and the union to begin negotiations over a collective bargaining agreement, the union said.

Sanders, 77, announced his candidacy in February and will compete in a crowded field of more than a dozen Democratic challengers seeking the nomination to face the likely Republican candidate - incumbent President Donald Trump - in the 2020 election.

Sanders, who narrowly lost the 2016 Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton, has been among the leaders in early opinion polls of prospective 2020 Democratic candidates.

In January, Sanders apologized to women campaign workers who said they had been harassed or mistreated by male campaign staffers during his 2016 White House bid.

“It appears that as part of our campaign, there were some women who were harassed or mistreated. And I thank them, from the bottom of my heart, for speaking out,” Sanders said after a press conference regarding a prescription drug bill he supported. “What they experienced was absolutely unacceptable and certainly not what a progressive campaign, or any campaign, should be about.”

“Our standards, our procedures, our safeguards, were clearly inadequate,” he added.

Prior to his apology, former campaign staff wrote a letter to Sanders and his leadership team requesting a formal meeting to address incidents contributing to a culture of toxic masculinity within that specific campaign as well as in the field of campaigning at large, with the intent to influence future handlings of such cases.

The 2020 presidential election will be the first since the #MeToo movement began -- notable as the current president was elected despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, hate speech and inciting violence against protesters at rallies, and audio evidence of misogynistic rhetoric such as “grab them (women) by the pussy.”

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