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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slams Congress for employing unpaid interns

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New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
New
York congressional candidate Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez

Scott Eisen/Getty
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  • Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out her future
    colleagues in Congress for paying their low-level staffers
    salaries below the “living wage” and for employing unpaid
    interns.
  • “This week I went to dive spot in DC for some late night
    food. I chatted up the staff. SEVERAL bartenders, managers, &
    servers *currently worked in Senate + House offices,*” she
    wrote.
    “This is a disgrace.”
  • The message may have pressured Senate Minority Leader Chuck
    Schumer to announce on Monday that he’ll pay his interns a
    stipend in the new congress. 

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out her future
colleagues in Congress, including Democrats, for paying their low
level staffers salaries below the “living wage” and for employing
unpaid interns, even as members of Congress are paid multiple
times more than the average American. 

The incoming New York Democrat, who took service industry jobs to
support herself and her family in the years before she ran for
office, tweeted on Monday that she’s met congressional staffers
who wait tables to supplement their government wages. 

“This week I went to dive spot in DC for some late night food. I
chatted up the staff. SEVERAL bartenders, managers, & servers
*currently worked in Senate + House offices,*” she wrote.
“This is a disgrace.”

Ocasio-Cortez argued that Congress should raise wages for
staffers so they can afford to continue living in Washington, one
of the most expensive cities in the country. The 29-year-old
future lawmaker
has said she couldn’t afford
a DC apartment before her
$174,000 congressional salary kicks in in January. 

“It is unjust for Congress to budget a living wage for ourselves,
yet rely on unpaid interns & underpaid overworked staff just
bc Republicans want to make a statement about ‘fiscal
responsibility,'” she added in another tweet


Read more:


Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is using Instagram stories to bring you
behind the curtain of the Washington, DC establishment

House members are paid anywhere between $174,000 and $223,500 a
year, and 40% of senators and representatives are millionaires,
according to a March 2018 Roll Call
report
. The median American household income was $59,039 in
2017, according to
the census

Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet came just a few hours after a reporter
noted
that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, another New York
Democrat, is hiring an unpaid intern. And her message may have
made an immediate impact, because later on Monday Schumer’s
office announced
the job posting had been made “in error” and that his interns
will be paid a stipend in the new congress. 

Ocasio-Cortez’s congressional campaign rejected corporate
donations, and the congresswoman-elect — who is the youngest
woman ever elected to Congress — has frequently criticized the
influence of money in politics, the expense of running for
office, and the lack of working class representatives in American
politics. 

“Many members of Congress were born into wealth, or they grew up
around it,” she
told
Bon Appetit last month. “How can you legislate a better
life for working people if you’ve never been a working person?”

 

 

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