by Meg O’Connor for the Gotham Gazette
originally published on Mar 08, 2016
As New York City Council members voted on a package of legislation that increased their salaries from $112,500 to $148,500, aides to two Council members stood silently in the balcony of the Council chambers, wearing white t-shirts that read, “Paycheck to Paycheck, Pay Raises for All.”
The $36,000 salary bump for Council members is about the same amount of money that many of their staff members make in a year. These are aides filling roles such as communications director, scheduler, and community liaison. Chiefs of staff usually make quite a bit more. At a hearing on the bills two days before the vote, several Council members spoke in support of also providing pay raises to their staff members. The silent demonstration by staffers from the offices of Council Members Inez Barron and Rosie Mendez was itself a coordinated effort done with the support of Barron and Mendez.
City Council members set the salaries of their staff members and decide how many aides to employ – the average staff size is about seven. The amount Council members choose to spend on salaries comes out of their office budgets, which are set by the Council Speaker’s office.
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