Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez promises to pay her interns $15 an hour or more, after slamming unpaid internships in Congress

Scott Eisen/Getty ImagesAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally opposing Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court in October 2018.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has promised to pay her congressional interns at least $US15 an hour.
  • Her pledge comes days after she slammed her future colleagues in both parties for employing unpaid interns and for not paying staffers a “living wage.”
  • “Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns. We will be one of them,” she said Tuesday.
  • A 2017 report found that just 8% of Republicans and 3.6% of Democrats in the House pay their interns.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that she will pay her congressional interns at least $US15 an hour after slamming her future colleagues for offering unpaid internships and failing to pay staff a “living wage.”

“Time to walk the walk,” the Democratic congresswoman-elect tweeted on Tuesday. “Very few members of Congress actually pay their interns. We will be one of them.”

She tweeted a link to an article in the Washington Post in which her campaign manager, Saikat Chakrabarti, confirmed that interns in her office would be paid “at least” $US15 an hour.

Ocasio-Cortez’s pledge comes a day after she criticised her future colleagues in Congress, including Democrats, for not paying interns.

She also tweeted on Monday that she has seen congressional employees waiting tables on the side. (Ocasio-Cortez was a waitress before her political career took off.)

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“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.”

Alexandria Ocasio-CortezMario Tama/Getty Images

Ocasio-Cortez said that Congress should also increase wages for paid staffers so they can afford to live in Washington, DC, one of the most expensive cities in the US.

“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 tweeted.

A report in 2017 from nonprofit group Pay Our Interns found that in the House, just 8% of Republicans and 3.6% of Democrats pay interns. It found that in the Senate, 51% of Republicans and 31% of Democrats pay their interns.

Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet on Monday came after a reporter said that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, another New York Democrat, is hiring an unpaid intern. Hours later, Schumer’s office announced that the job posting had been made “in error” and said that Schumer’s interns will be paid a stipend in the new Congress.

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From 2019, both the Senate and the House will have funds to pay interns. The House will be given $US8.8 million to distribute across members’ offices, and the Senate will be given $US5 million.

Ocasio-Cortez acknowledged the new fund, saying it would give $US20,000 per member of Congress for their interns. Each member of Congress is allowed four interns at a time.

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