A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would back efforts by congressional staffers to unionize after she appeared to sidestep a question about the topic earlier Thursday.
“Like all Americans, our tireless Congressional staff have the right to organize their workplace and join together in a union. If and when staffers choose to exercise that right, they would have Speaker Pelosi’s full support,” spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement on Twitter.
At her weekly news conference Thursday, reporter Pablo Manríquez of Latino Rebels had asked Pelosi, D-Calif., whether she would support efforts by staffers on Capitol Hill to unionize.
"Well, we just unionized at the [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee], and I supported that, yeah. I supported that," Pelosi said before moving on to the next question.
Pelosi was referring to the announcement last week that a majority of employees at the House Democrats' campaign arm had voted to unionize and form what was described as the Democratic Party’s largest collective bargaining unit.
Congressional staffers have raised concerns for years that salary levels are not keeping pace with the high cost of living in the nation's capital. Roll Call reported that a survey last month by the Congressional Progressive Staff Association found that 39 percent of the 516 House and Senate staffers who responded said they had taken out loans to cover everyday living expenses.
A whopping 86 percent of nonmanagement respondents and 80 percent of managers also said there is a "toxic work environment in Congress."