RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment

Solis writes: "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is changing business as usual on Capitol Hill."

Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (photo: Getty)
Rep-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (photo: Getty)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Will Pay Her Interns 'at Least' $15 an Hour

By Marie Solis, Vice

06 December 18

The incoming New York congresswoman is trying to disrupt a status quo where just 3.6 percent of House Democrats pay their interns.

lexandria Ocasio-Cortez is changing business as usual on Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday, the incoming New York congresswoman's chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, told Washington Post reporter Jeff Stein she plans to pay her interns "at least" $15 an hour, a move Ocasio-Cortez says is part of her effort to "walk the walk."

"Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. "We will be one of them."

Indeed, according to a 2017 report from the bipartisan nonprofit Pay Our Interns, there are very few congressional offices that employ paid interns, particularly in the House, where a meager 8 percent of Republican representatives pay their interns and an even smaller 3.6 percent of Democratic representatives do the same. In the Senate, those numbers are significantly higher: Fifty-one percent of Republicans offer paid internships, as well as 31 percent of Democrats.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently came under fire for being among those looking to hire unpaid interns, posting a job listing on Monday soliciting applications for an a full-time intern willing to work without pay. Pay Our Interns pointed out that Schumer started out on the Hill as an intern himself—at the time, nearly four decades ago, he reportedly made what today would be $1,800 a month.

After Ocasio-Cortez announced she'd be paying her interns $15 an hour, a spokesman for Schumer told the New York Post the job listing had been "made in error," and that his office would be offering a stipend to "eligible interns" starting in January.

"The congresswoman-elect is shedding light on an issue we’ve been so passionate about for the last two years," Guillermo Creamer Jr., the deputy director and cofounder of Pay Our Interns, tells Broadly. "Her profile has really allowed the conversation to spark again. I think that’s one of the things we’re most happy about with all of this."

Creamer Jr. says the only other member of Congress to pay their interns as much as $15 an hour is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Ocasio-Cortez took up the issue of pay disparity on the Hill earlier this week, when she said she got to talking to bartenders, managers, and servers at a local DC "dive spot" she went to for a late-night bite. Several of them, she said, currently worked in Senate and House offices, where they didn't make enough to support themselves without a second job.

She called it a "disgrace" that Congress didn't pay its staff "an actual DC living wage," and suggested Congress raise its Members' Representational Allowances, or MRA, in order to do so.

"It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves, yet rely on unpaid interns and underpaid overworked staff just [because] Republicans want to make a statement about 'fiscal responsibility,'" Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Monday. "If that's the case, they can cut down on staff to pay them well. Or raise the MRA."

In September, the House approved a spending bill that set aside $14 million for intern pay alone. It's Creamer Jr.'s hope that House representatives like Ocasio-Cortez use more of it to do right by their intern staff and, in turn, make the positions more accessible to a more diverse group of young people.

"It definitely helps [Ocasio-Cortez] provide internships to those who couldn't originally afford to take on an internship," Creamer Jr. says. "I think the congresswoman-elect really wants to bring on individuals from her own constituency, and she realizes the need those individuals might have.

"It is unusual to have a member of congress pay an intern at least $15, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible," he continues. "She’s paving the way so others can follow suit."

Email This Page your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

+3 # elizabethblock 2018-12-06 10:16
After Ocasio-Cortez announced she'd be paying her interns $15 an hour, a spokesman for Schumer told the New York Post the job listing had been "made in error."

Made in error. I guess so!
+2 # tedrey 2018-12-06 11:41
Unlike many congresspeople Ocasio-Cortez seems to do the right thing automatically-- almost as if it comes naturally to her. Kudos!
0 # RLF 2018-12-07 08:11
Doesn't she realize that unpaid interns are there to make sure the right class of people continue into politics??? ;-0

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.