Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on May 6 that she is ordering the minimum salary to be paid to congressional aides in the lower chamber of Congress to be increased to $45,000.
“I am pleased to announce that … the House will for the first time ever set the minimum annual pay for staff at $45,000.
The deadline to implement the new pay order is Sept. 1, 2022, Pelosi said in a “Dear Colleague” letter to all 435 Members of the House of Representatives.
“With a competitive minimum salary, the House will better be able to retain and recruit excellent, diverse talent. Doing so will open the doors to public service for those who may not have been able to afford to do so in the past.
“This is also an issue of fairness, as many of the youngest staffers working the longest hours often earn the lowest salaries,” Pelosi said.
“The government funding legislation enacted in March included a 21 percent increase in the Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) for each office, which will more than cover this pay adjustment. It is highly encouraged that Members use this MRA increase to honor the committed work of your staff members,” she continued.
Pelosi’s announcement also included her decision to schedule a House vote next week on a proposal to allow House aides to join a union.
“The House will vote next week on Congressman Andy Levin’s resolution recognizing congressional workers’ right to organize. When the House passes this resolution, we will pave the way for staffers to join in union, if they so choose.
“Congressional staffers deserve the same fundamental rights and protections as workers all across the country, including the right to bargain collectively,” Pelosi said.
The decision to raise House staff salaries is the latest development in a bipartisan effort that began several years ago to focus attention on the working conditions of the nearly 8,000 mostly young men and women working for individual senators and representatives on their personal office staffs in the nation’s capital and in district and state offices.
Aides routinely put in long hours and can be fired at will by their bosses. Those in entry and low-level positions are often paid below the $46,900 “living wage” threshold for single individuals living in the District of Columbia.
But aides also are critical factors in the law-making process because they are frequently decisive influences on how a senator or representative votes. Seasoned lobbyists know this and typically devote significant efforts to developing relationships with key staffers.
“Today is a proud moment in congressional history and portends a significant advance in the working conditions for congressional staff,” said Daniel Schuman, policy director for Demand Progress a liberal-leaning non-profit that supports the unionization proposal.
Pelosi’s decision “addresses a serious issue where one-in-eight staffers earned below a living wage. Speaker Pelosi’s use of her authority to issue this pay order … will remediate a longstanding and unconscionable situation where some staff have been paid poverty wages,” Schuman said.
Raising staff salaries is likely to receive support on both sides of the aisle, but House approval of the unionization proposal is far from certain.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, opposes unionization because he believes it will increase the hyper-partisan dysfunction that so often paralyzes Congress from taking needed actions with appropriate dispatch.
“Allowing congressional offices and committees to unionize could potentially create numerous conflicts of interest by enabling unions to have undue influence over members and the legislative process,” Davis told The Epoch Times earlier this year.
“Unions can play an important role in workplaces. They just don’t work with Congress’ unique political structure and constitutional responsibilities on behalf of the American people.
“Furthermore, the majority’s plan to adopt regulations that were drafted 26 years ago, as outlined in the resolution supported by 144 of my Democratic colleagues, will create more dysfunction in Washington,” he said.
National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix told The Epoch Times that letting union officials negotiate working conditions for congressional staff will be productive. “They have obviously created such a toxic work environment that allowing government union officials to negotiate terms and conditions of employment and force workers who never asked for, voted for, or wanted under their collective power is the only “fix”, or the only one Pelosi can think of. If that’s how they treat their own staff, it only underscores why Pelosi and her ilk should not be trusted to set labor policy for millions of businesses and tens of millions of workers,” Mix said.
From The Epoch Times