Friday’s announcement by congressional staffers that they are unionizing was met with overwhelming support by progressive and Democratic lawmakers.
Since over a year, the Congressional Workers Union has been organizing. they said in a statement.
“[W]e are proud to publicly announce our efforts to unionize the personal offices and committees of Congress, in solidarity with our fellow workers across the United States and the world,” the staffers wrote.
“While not all offices and committees face the same working conditions, we strongly believe that to better serve our constituents will require meaningful changes to improve retention, equity, diversity, and inclusion on Capitol Hill,” they continued. “That starts with having a voice in the workplace. We call on all congressional staff to join in the effort to unionize, and look forward to meeting management at the table.”
Organizers pointed at a surveyLast month, 91 percent of survey respondents to the Congressional Progressive Staff Association survey of 516 staffers stated that they wanted more protections at work.
Many congressional staff are not paid enough to live in Washington, D.C. The annual salary for Capitol Hill staffers starts at $20,000 even workers making a higher salaryConsider that childcare costs can eat up entire paychecks.
A recent report found that one out of every eight staffers isn’t paid a living wage, which is about $42,000 for an adult with no children in D.C., according to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s living wage calculator. According to the Congressional Research Service there were approximately 5,700 Senate staffers in 2020 about 9,000 staffersThe House in 2021
Just after the announcement comes a spokesperson for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said that the Democratic leader would fully back any congressional staffers’ unionizing efforts.
“Like all Americans, our tireless Congressional staff have the right to organize their workplace and join together in a union,” spokesperson Drew Hammill said on Thursday. “If and when staffers choose to exercise that right, they would have Speaker Pelosi’s full support.”
Soon, Twitter was flooded with support from Democratic lawmakers. “Congressional staff need unions now!” Rep. Andy Levin (D-Michigan) wrote on Thursday night. “Congress couldn’t run without them and I’m committed to supporting their voice at work.”
“On Capitol Hill, interns are often unpaid, many staffers don’t make a living wage, and lack of work protections can pave the way for unhealthy environments,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “[S]ounds like a perfect place for a union.”
Ocasio Cortez was elected last year Led a push by 110 House representativesTo request a larger office budget from the House Appropriations Committee in order to enable lawmakers to pay fair wages.
“For years, pay and benefits for the staff of Member offices, leadership offices, and committees have fallen farther and farther behind what is offered in the private sector,” the lawmakers said. “At the same time, the cost of living here in our nation’s capital has risen substantially, placing opportunities such as homeownership, rental housing, and childcare out of reach for many.”
Because Capitol Hill staffers earn such low wages only a few can afford to work for Congress. Staff, especially interns are often white and from privileged backgrounds; poorer people can’t afford to live in D.C. on such low wages, and often take private sector jobs that will pay more for the amount of experience they have. Recent changes in the workforce have been made by non-whites. taken to InstagramTo post stories by former and current workers that expose the poor working conditions within Congress.