House votes to allow staffers to unionize
The House passed a resolution allowing all congressional staffers in the lower chamber to unionize in a party-line vote Tuesday evening.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI), was deemed and approved in a rule vote for a bill aimed at providing supplemental funding for the war in Ukraine, easing its path to passage in the lower chamber.
Supporters of the move argued that it is critical for staffers to be able to bargain their rights collectively in the workplace. While the resolution passed the lower chamber, where the change is expected to go into effect, it is unlikely to see the support needed to pass the Senate.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced that the measure would come to the floor last week in a “Dear Colleague” letter in which she also alerted members she would implement a $45,000 minimum salary for congressional aides.
“I am writing to announce two important new reforms to strengthen workplace rights for our staff, while improving our ability to retain and recruit the next generation of public servants. First: 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,” she wrote.
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“Second: I am pleased to announce that, pursuant to the statutory authority of the Speaker in 2 U.S.C. 4532, the House will for the first time ever set the minimum annual pay for staff at $45,000,” she continued. “The deadline to implement this new Pay Order is September 1, 2022, and additional guidance is forthcoming.”
The resolution was met with pushback from the majority of Republicans, who argued that the change could lead to unintended negative consequences.
“The uniqueness of this institution requires flexibility. It requires each individual office to meet the unique needs of its constituency. It’s not just state by state — it’s district by district,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) said at a hearing in March.
Calls for Congress to change its policy on unionization escalated earlier this year after an anonymous Instagram account with the handle “dear_white_staffers” highlighted aides’ stories of mistreatment and salary ranges from an array of offices.