Former Hill Staffer Launches

Gabe Garbowit, a former Hill staffer for Senator Tina Smith, D-Minn, recently launched to track union support or opposition of all 100 senators. Garbowit aims to get every senator on the record on two questions: would they support collective bargaining protections for Senate staff? And would they support their own staff unionizing? The website is an attempt to improve conditions for former compatriots still working in the Senate and those yet to join.

Collective bargaining protections refer to the legal right of employees to join together and negotiate with their employer regarding their working conditions, pay, and benefits. In the context of Senate staff, this would mean that the Senators would support legislation or policies that allow their staff to unionize and collectively bargain for better working conditions and benefits.

The second question is asking whether Senators would support their own staff unionizing, which means allowing their employees to form a union to negotiate with the employer (the Senator’s office) for better wages, working conditions, and benefits

The Challenges of Working on Capitol Hill

During his four-year tenure on the Hill, Garbowit encountered several challenges that staffers commonly face. The hours were long, and overtime often went unpaid. Office conditions could be subpar, and there was general confusion about staffers’ rights when professional lines were crossed. Garbowit, who spent the duration of his Hill career in the office of Senator Smith, said that “people had a lot of difficult experiences.” Tracking Union Support or Opposition of All 100 Senators

Garbowit’s aims to get senators on the record and encourage conversations about improving the workplace environment. Initial results show that no Republicans responded to Garbowit’s inquiry, and more than half of Democrats also ignored it. Five Democrats answered no to the first question, and 15 Democrats, including Smith, answered yes to both questions. Garbowit hopes the tracker will allow staff to capitalize on the momentum that Senator Markey’s staff unionization brought to the Senate.

Initial Results: 15 Senators Open to Unionization

The Senate has lagged behind the House in its support for staff unionization. In May 2022, the Democrat-led House passed a resolution guaranteeing staff protection, which set the stage for the Congressional Workers Union to start organizing Hill offices. By the end of 2022, staff in the offices of 14 House Democrats had petitioned to hold union elections. Garbowit was shocked by how quickly the House was able to turn these stories and frustrations into something concrete that actually led to a rules change. He said, “I wanted to do something that would get senators on the record and try to force them to have these conversations.”

Garbowit Hopes to Empower Staffers with Momentum

Garbowit hopes that the tracker will allow staff to capitalize on the momentum that Senator Markey’s staff unionization brought to the Senate. Although he was at first reluctant to speak out in favor of unions, he eventually launched the tracker under his name to empower current staffers to speak up without fear of reprisal. “If a single staffer feels a little more empowered to talk about what they’ve experienced in their workplace and how they can make a productive change, that, to me, is just incredible,” Garbowit said.


  1. Larry Colt Avatar
    Larry Colt

    Garbowit’s dedication to giving a voice to Senate staff and empowering them to make positive changes in their workplace is commendable. It takes courage to speak up in favor of unions, and the tracker provides a platform for staffers to do so without fear of reprisal. Overall, has the potential to create meaningful change and improve the working conditions of Senate staff. Kudos to Garbowit for his efforts in advocating for collective bargaining protections and staff unionization.

  2. David Blake Avatar
    David Blake

    It’s exciting to hear about the launch of by a former Hill staffer! This is a great initiative that will undoubtedly be of immense value to those interested in tracking the activities of the Senate and the various unions that operate within it. With the platform’s comprehensive coverage and up-to-date information, users can stay informed and engaged with the latest developments in Senate union activities. The launch of is an excellent example of leveraging technology to bring transparency and accountability to the political sphere, and we commend the former Hill staffer for taking this step. We wish them all the best as they continue to innovate and make a positive impact on the political landscape.

  3. David Blake Avatar
    David Blake

    Former Hill staffer launches, a platform offering insights into union activities within the Senate. This valuable resource enhances transparency and understanding of unions’ influence on Senate proceedings and policymaking. It serves as a valuable tool for researchers, journalists, and the public, contributing to an informed and engaged democracy.

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