Staffers in the state Assembly in a letter released Tuesday morning signaled their plans to unionize in the coming months in order to secure better wages and benefits in jobs that are often low-paid with long hours.
The letter comes as staffers in both the state Assembly and state Senate in recent months have discussed unionizing, a movement that has also picked up steam on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Like their D.C. counterparts, staffers in Albany are often required to work long days with pay that can make living in unaffordable cities like New York City all the more out of reach.
The New York State Legislative Workers United in a letter to Speaker Carl Heastie announced cards are being signed and that it would be seeking voluntary recognition of the union in the coming weeks.
"Assembly staff deliver life-changing services to thousands of New Yorkers every day, and maintain critical governmental operations," the staffers said. "Through unionization, Assembly staff hope to better their demanding working conditions, gain a seat at the table regarding parental leave, healthcare policies, and overtime compensation, and change the status quo in the Legislature for future generations of Assembly employees."
Staffers in the letter pointed to the high cost of living and low pay that could lead to people being drawn from more privileged backgrounds to work for the state Legislature.
"Most of us work long hours, including late nights and weekends, and our overtime is unpaid," the staffers wrote in the letter.
The effort to unionize workers in the state Legislature, however, faces questions. The right-leaning Empire Center think tank pointed to New York's collective bargaining law that may limit the ability to form a union within the state Legislature.