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2024 Election

Unions working at the 2024 Democratic convention promise no picket signs

Unions and national Democrats are set to sign a labor peace agreement this week for the convention in Chicago, including hotel workers for the first time.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison announced in April that Chicago had been chosen to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison announced in April that Chicago had been chosen to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention.Scott Olson / Getty Images file

CHICAGO — Democratic officials and labor groups Tuesday are expected to formally sign a labor peace agreement covering the 2024 Democratic National Convention — earlier than such an accord has ever been struck, according to details first provided to NBC News. 

It is also more extensive, including hotel workers for the first time, Democratic officials say.

The deal means the Democratic National Committee, under President Joe Biden, is signaling early that it will use union labor for any work involving next year’s convention. The unions are also agreeing not to picket or cause work stoppages before the big event.  

It encompasses unions that do work 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 Theatrical Stage Employees, local unions for electrical workers, the Teamsters and the Service Employees International Union.  

“There won’t be any picketing for any of the work for the DNC as long as the agreements are adhered to,” Chicago Federation of Labor President Bob Reiter said in an interview. And adding hotel workers was significant because they are mainly women and people of color, which, he said, lines up with the Democratic Party’s values. 

Reiter said getting the accord out of the way early “signals that people are ready to get down to business.” 

Making peace with labor is no small task in a town with a storied history of union strength, where labor has sustained its political muscle, influential in sweeping mayors in and out of power

Tuesday in Chicago, the parties, including DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, are to formally put in writing that the convention commits to using union labor “everywhere applicable and when available,” according to the DNC.

“Make no mistake about it, Chicago is a union town, and our convention will put that on display for the whole 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’m excited to have President Biden and the entire Democratic Party come see what Chicago union workers can deliver.” 

The pledge is significant because Chicago stakeholders repeatedly held up the city’s bona fides as a strong labor town in their competitive bid to host the convention. That was in contrast to Georgia, which is a “right to work” state, meaning employers are forbidden from requiring employees to pay union dues.   

It’s also an attempt by Biden to signal he’s taking his past commitments to be a strong union president seriously. He previously signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $15 an hour. The White House is now trying to navigate a series of labor strikes across the country — specifically by not intervening. 

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

The Biden campaign is ramping up, including hiring more staff members. It announced last week that it and other Democratic groups had raised more than $70 million.