New York Congressional Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been making waves since she won the election for the 14th congressional district in the Big Apple in November. The youngest female representative in history has made it clear she fights for the little people, wanting everyone to have a fair chance to prosper.
One of the fights she has taken on is for a livable wage for all. She has argued that the minimum wage in the country is hardly the same as a livable wage, and called on lawmakers across the country to pay their employees fairly.
And she’s not just all talk. According to Roll Call, Ocasio-Cortez is starting at home, having apparently decided she will not pay a single employee working in her office less than $52,000 per year.
This major jump in salary for some of the employees working for the Democrat will mean that the group are far more likely to stick around given that they can actually afford to live in Washington.
One of those staffers, 22-year-old Claudia Pagon Marchena, was working a second job at a restaurant until Ocasio-Cortez was sworn into office, giving her a seven-day work week every single week. She quit her job the same week the new representative took over, after previously thinking she would have to leave Washington in order to survive.
“It was unsustainable,” Pagon Marchena said. “I needed an office that was going to pay me a fair wage.”
Leadership starts with our choices.
That’s why I decided that no one on my staff will make less than $52k/year.
It’s likely one of the highest entry-level salaries on the Hill. We pinch pennies elsewhere, but it’s worth every dime to pay a living wage.https://t.co/IxfNH4632h
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 23, 2019
Ocasio-Cortez intends to fund these high salaries by cutting spending elsewhere in her office, getting rid of unnecessary expenses of luxury.
Lawmakers on both sides have already agreed to increase their staffers’ salaries for 2019, but not by as much as Ocasio-Cortez will now be paying her employees. Even with that increase, the budget for Members’ Representational Allowances is still less than that of 2010 by almost $100 million.
An investigation into the congressional salaries of the past decade was launched in 2018. It is believed that helped pushed lawmakers to promise to pay their staffers better.
Massachusetts Rep. Katherine M. Clark has also shared her commitment to ensuring fair pay for her employees.
“We want to make sure that we are not only offering a living wage to our staff, but that we are hiring at the appropriate levels for the workload that we have, and that we are staffing our committees in a way that makes sense,” she said.
According to Clark, offering staffers fair pay across the board is a priority for the Democratic party.