Lewis Morris / May 12, 2022

Pelosi’s Housekeeping Plans: Unionization and Higher Pay

If the speaker is destined to become the petty ex-speaker, she’s going to make things as miserable as possible for her Republican successor.

This week, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives voted along strict party lines to approve a resolution allowing congressional staffers to unionize. This follows a move by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week to establish a wage floor and ceiling for those staffers, set to go into effect by September 1.

But why do this now? Why wasn’t it a Day One priority for Pelosi, Biden, and their fellow Democrats? Are they already anticipating a shellacking on November 8 and therefore intent on leaving things a mess for Republicans?

The union resolution is part of a years-long quest by Democrats to unionize the federal government, which creates a cozy and inherently sleazy relationship that even Franklin Roosevelt opposed. Staff unionization is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate, though, which would require 10 Republican votes to surmount a guaranteed filibuster.

Unionization of government employees has created pockets of power throughout the federal bureaucracy — pockets that are consistently corrupt and utterly insulated. The sharp growth in government in recent decades and the growth of bureaucratic interference in our daily lives is directly related to the growth of these self-serving federal employee unions. It’s nearly impossible to fire a federal employee, and the rules they’ve made for themselves have insulated their actions and behavior from public scrutiny and accountability.

Meanwhile, Pelosi announced a $45,000 minimum annual pay for House staff, along with a $203,700 maximum annual pay. The funds for the pay adjustment are already covered, thanks to a 21% increase in the Members Representational Allowance that was enacted in March. (A 21% increase? Nice work if you can get it.)

The stated reasons for pushing unionization and the pay raise include trying to make the House more competitive with the private sector and the Washington lobbying industry. Additionally, Pelosi wants to address the perceived unfairness of young legislative staffers working long hours for low pay. Democrats also cite burnout and emotional triggers suffered by staffers due to COVID, the January 6 riot, and — get this — demanding bosses.

At the risk of being the bearer of real-world news, we’d suggest that young staffers everywhere generally work long hours for low pay. It’s part and parcel of pursuing a career in law, business, politics, manufacturing, and so forth. Work hard, get paid peanuts, and learn a lot early through networking and experience so that one can earn the big bucks later. It’s called investing in one’s future. In a (relatively) free market, if the work is too hard or the pay is too low, folks are always free to work someplace else. Why should taxpayers subsidize a 21% pay increase for congressional staffers when most of us in the private sector have to change jobs to reap that kind of gain?

One would hope that bosses on Capitol Hill are demanding. We elect representatives who we expect to have our best interests at heart, and those who choose to work for them should have the same focus and commitment. These people are running our country. It’s supposed to be a tough gig. As for the other emotional triggers cited above, our best advice is for these people to grow up.

Sadly, it’s to be expected that leftist wokeness would invade the congressional staff. After all, those interested in government work tend to be left-of-center politically. It’s the attraction to power and the ability to tell other people what to do that invigorates them. But, yes, this one-two punch of staffer unionization and pay raises is really about Pelosi exacting revenge from the Republicans for their likely takeover of the House in the midterms.

Indeed, with the toxic environment in the Beltway these days, we’d almost expect the Democrats to stir congressional staffers to strike once the Republicans take control of Congress. (Hey, they’re Democrats.) And as with all their other actions, it’s not about serving the American people — it’s about seizing power.

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