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White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday that President Biden supports efforts by Capitol Hill staffers to form a union.
“There’s some talk on Capitol Hill about congressional staffers unionizing,” Psaki was asked by a reporter. “Does the president support that?”
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“He does,” Psaki responded. “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.”
When asked if White House staff have been in touch with the congressional staffers who are pushing for a union, Psaki directed the question to congressional leadership.
The announcement of Biden’s support for a union on Capitol Hill comes amid the surging popularity of the Instagram account “Dear_White_Staffers,” which started posting in early 2020 largely about alleged unequal treatment of minority staffers on Capitol Hill. More recently, the account’s served as a clearinghouse for more general complaints about poor pay, alleged harassment and generally poor working conditions – often naming individual members.
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Indeed, staffers are paid notoriously low salaries, especially in an expensive city like Washington, DC Congressional Research Service, the median salary for a staff assistant in a House office was $ 39,130. The median legislative assistant in a House office was paid $ 55,058 in 2019 – although some made below $ 45,000.
Offices also rely heavily on unpaid internships and fellowships, positions aspiring Hill staffers often need – sometimes even after graduating from college – before they’re able to land a paid position.
Other prominent Democrats have expressed support for the union, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer who both publicly approved the move on Thursday.
On Friday, a group of staffers formally announced their intention to pursue a union.
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In September, Biden repeated a previous pledge to be the most-pro labor president in the history of the country.
“Labor will always be welcome. You know, you’ve heard me say many times: I intend to be the most pro-union president leading the most pro-union administration in American history.”
Gadget Clock’ Tyler Olson contributed to this report