WASHINGTON – Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed concerns about the working conditions of some Capitol Hill aid workers and on Friday announced a $45,000 minimum annual salary for House staffers and put a resolution to the vote next week that would pave the way for aid workers to join a union.
While jobs on Capitol Hill are highly sought after and can lead to high salaries later, the work often involves grueling hours and low wages in a region where high housing costs leave little money for other necessities.
The legislature determines the payment of their helpers. The money comes from an allowance made available to each member to cover rent, equipment, salaries and other expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.
Pelosi noted that the recently approved 21% increase in that allowance should more than cover the increased salaries. She encouraged members to use the raise “to recognize the dedicated work of your staff.”
“This will open the doors to public service for those who may not have been able to afford it in the past,” Pelosi said. “This is also a matter of fairness, as many of the youngest employees work the longest, often earning the lowest salaries.”
The deadline for implementing the $45,000 annual minimum is September 1st. According to the House Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the average salary for employees working for a single legislature was $50,000 last year.
Pelosi’s moves come at a time when the Biden White House is trying to issue policies to strengthen unions. Workers in Democratic groups such as the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have taken to unionizing. And that effort has spread to the House of Representatives, where Michigan Rep. Andy Levin’s resolution calls for the approval of regulations that would give employees the opportunity to bargain collectively if they so choose.
It is not possible for one tariff unit to represent all or most domestic workers. The collective bargaining that workers do would take place separately with hundreds of legislators and committees.
Republican lawmakers are generally opposed, calling unions impractical for congressional offices that face unpredictable schedule changes and inevitable election-related turnover.
“This is a concept that can create numerous conflicts of interest and compromise members’ constitutional responsibilities to the American people, with no guarantee that improvements in the welfare of employees would actually occur,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., during March a hearing on the subject.
But in her Friday letter to lawmakers, Pelosi said congressional workers deserve the same basic rights and protections as workers across the country, including the right to collective bargaining.
A volunteer group of workers called the Congressional Workers Union has led the union effort.
“Next week the credibility of the legislature will be put to the test. Will our bosses finally lead by example?” the group tweeted in response to Pelosi’s announcement.
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https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/06/pelosi-sets-45000-minimum-yearly-salary-for-house-aides/ Pelosi sets minimum annual salary for domestic workers at $45,000