The impact of the Great Resignation reached the steps of the Capitol. This morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that to find and keep top talent, the House must provide fair compensation to entry-level political aides, who are notoriously overworked and underpaid.
Base pay for House employees will start at $45,000 beginning Sept. 1, 2022, according to a letter written by Pelosi and first covered by PunchBowl News. She hopes that wage reforms will help diversify and strengthen the talent pool, as well as retain workers.
“With a competitive minimum wage, the House will be better able to retain and recruit excellent, diverse talent. This will open the doors to public service for those who may not have had the means to do so in the past,” said Pelosi writes in the letter, “It’s also a matter of fairness, as many of the youngest employees working the longest hours often earn the lowest wages.”
One in eight congressional workers are not earning a living wage, according to a 2020 Number One report. That year, the median salary for staff assistants was $38,730, $43,860 for press assistants and $44,050 for legal correspondents. About 70% of staff assistants earned less than a living wage, and many staff members had to take side jobs to cover expenses.
Whether $45,000 a year is enough to attract top talent to a city known for its high cost of living remains to be seen. But Pelosi has a big stake in the game as staff retention hit a ten-year low in 2021. Salary-weighted data released by LegiStorm found staff turnover was the highest in at least two decades. . And Democrats were the hardest hit, as they lost 24% more employees than Republicans.
Entry-level workers aren’t the only ones getting a raise. Pelosi announced that to match Senate pay, the maximum House salary will increase from $199,300 to $203,700.
Pelosi also spoke to the Congressional Workers Union (CWU), which has been working to organize congressional workers since February. In her letter, she announced that the House would hold a vote on whether to legalize unionization.
According to Gallup, public opinion of unions is the highest since 1965, although union participation in the private sector has declined steadily since 1983 (it has remained fairly stable for public sector workers). While the Gallup survey shows that unions are more popular among Democrats (with an approval rating of 90%), nearly half of Republicans approve of unions (47%). As a speaker, Pelosi acknowledged this high approval rating and voiced her support for the CWU.
According to WeatherCWU contains mostly Democratic employees, but the issue of better pay, which union organizers are pushing, remains a priority among employees on both sides of the aisle.
“It’s a privilege to work here, but it shouldn’t be a privilege to earn a living wage here,” said a congressional employee. Weather.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com