State Sen. Diana DiZoglio has co-filed legislation aimed at increasing the salaries of Beacon Hill’s lowest paid staffers, calling it an attempt to reduce the “barrier for entrance into public service for members of underserved populations, for persons of color, for recent graduates for whom student debt is an insurmountable obstacle.”
DiZoglio and state Somerville Democratic Rep. Erika Uyterhoeven filed five bills to assist State House staffers. The legislation was drafted following an anonymous, voluntary survey created by State House staffers in various offices, alongside Beacon BLOC, a collective of black, indigenous and other people of color staff members, devoted to ending racial inequities among State House employees. Concerns were raised around compensation, financial security, monthly work expenses pre/post-COVID-19, pay equity and overall dynamics in the building.
“We always hear about the need for diversity, equity and inclusion, yet don’t recognize outdated policies that make it difficult for those who don’t already come from a position of privilege to get a seat at the table. Many in low-income and gateway communities can’t afford to take a job that isn’t offering basics like health care coverage on day one—especially on the heels of the pandemic,” DiZoglio said in a statement.
The proposed bills would provide a salary floor for the lowest tier of legislative staff salaries; adjust staff salaries for the entire period of the COVID-19 shutdown to reflect pandemic-driven increased costs of working from home and job responsibilities, and in light of legislator salary increases; provide cost-of-living adjustments similar to that provided to legislators; eliminate the waiting period for health insurance coverage; and offer mediation and conflict resolution training.
“More than one year after George Floyd’s murder and our nation’s racial justice reckoning, we are urging the State House to do its own self-examination of racial barriers and inequities for our staffers,” said Uyterhoeven.