Biden backs union push by low-paid Capitol Hill staffers: Psaki

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Biden backs union push by low-paid Capitol Hill staffers: Psaki

President Biden supports a push by some Capitol Hill staffers to unionize, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.

“He does. He supports the right of any individual to seek to join a union to collective bargain. And, of course, Capitol Hill staffers are certainly individuals who are pursuing that,” Psaki said in response to a question from Wall Street Journal reporter Alex Leary.

Capitol staffers generally are paid much less than peers at private businesses while working for some of DC’s most tyrannical bosses.

About 1,200 Capitol workers, or roughly one in eight full-time staffers, earn less than $42,610, the minimum “living wage” for a single adult in DC, according to a recent survey from nonprofit Issue One. Congressional offices generally supplement their cheap labor with unpaid interns.

Staff at the Capitol typically shuffle through offices to gain modest raises — or to flee notorious bosses such as Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who former aides say viciously bullies aides while ordering them to violate traffic laws and pick up garlic supplements in the middle of the night.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Former aides have accused Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) of bullying staffers.
Chip Somodevilla/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
President Joe Biden
President Biden supports Capitol workers unionizing.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has expressed support for a Capitol Hill union.
Los Angeles Times / Polaris

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) supports the idea of a Capitol Hill union, her spokesman Drew Hammill tweeted last week. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also supports the effort.

A group calling itself the Congressional Workers Union issued a statement Friday saying, “After more than a year of organizing as a volunteer group of congressional staffers, we 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.”

A measure to allow Capitol Hill political staff to unionize would have to pass the House and Senate and would likely face stiff resistance from Republicans in the Senate, where 60 votes are required for most legislation.

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