ALE’s 2021 End of Year Recap
ALE hit historic milestones in 2021. We worked tirelessly to gain union recognition, first for Council Financial Analysts in January and then for Council Member Aides in August. This made ALE the exclusive bargaining representative of nearly 400 staffers at the Council, and the largest union of legislative aides in the nation. To accomplish this, we gathered cards twice – once in the midst of the pandemic – and successfully campaigned to get 29 Council Members to publicly support a resolution to advance union recognition, which passed with a vote of 47-2 in April. Council staffers now have additional rights and protections on the job, and ALE will be fighting in the new year for a strong first contract that improves our salaries and benefits, establishes an overtime policy, protects staff through a fair grievance process, and much more.
Throughout 2021, ALE showed its commitment to engage members and provide transparency. We organized five Town Halls and six socials, so that members had opportunities to speak directly on issues and interact with each other. The Membership, Social Media & Communications, Welfare Benefits Fund, Stewards & Grievances, and Constitution Committees were active throughout the year. These committees organized the membership card collection drive, drafted a cohesive and equitable Constitution, developed a comprehensive communications strategy and sent weekly newsletters, searched for a new benefits fund, and addressed workplace grievances. To formalize our union, elections were held to adopt the Constitution and Dues Rates, and the Executive Board was democratically elected in November, with over 96% of members voting.
In light of the pandemic and the large transition at the Council, ALE focused heavily on COVID-19 safety and protecting members’ jobs. We won in-person work policies that were separate from the Mayor’s unsafe and unfair 5-days-a-week in office plan, and continue fighting for flexible remote work and transparent mechanisms for reporting concerns in the face of the Omicron variant. ALE demanded one unified and clearly communicated set of guidelines for all staff and shared timely safety information to protect workers from COVID exposure. ALE also defended members’ jobs during an unprecedented period of turnover. We released an employment survey to better support staffers, shared dozens of job opportunities each week, and created a Resume Bank to connect outgoing staffers with incoming Council Members.
ALE will prioritize member safety and engagement in 2022 as we battle the pandemic and prepare for our contract campaign. Our labor victories are part of a national labor upsurge. We are proud to be in solidarity with our public sector labor siblings, the workers in Buffalo who built the first Starbucks union in the country, Columbia University student workers fighting for a fair contract during a months-long strike, and Kellogg’s workers who recently ratified a new contract. We are proud to be part of a strong labor movement that continues to grow and demand livable wages and equitable workplace standards.