by CHQ Staff
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has pledged to American workers that he would institute a $15-per-hour minimum wage if he wins the White House in 2020. But, reports Dom Calicchio of Fox News, unionized workers on Sanders’ own campaign say they wish he would start now — by paying a higher wage to them.
In a letter to Sanders campaign manager Faiz Shakir, Mr. Calicchio reports the campaign staffers claim they “cannot be expected to build the largest grassroots organizing program in American history while making poverty wages.”
“Given our campaign’s commitment to fighting for a living wage of at least $15.00 an hour,” the letter continued, “we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team.”
The field organizers claim that their long hours working on behalf of Sanders drop their actual pay to about $13 per hour.
“Many field staffers are barely managing to survive financially,” the union letter says, “which is severely impacting our team’s productivity and morale. Some field organizers have already left the campaign as a result.”
Sanders’ campaign manager Shakir seemed to paint a different picture Mr. Calicchio reported, “We know our campaign offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports,” Shakir said in a statement.
Competition? Market rates? Perish the thought in the socialist workers paradise Bernie hopes to create.
However, much as Sen. Sanders sounds like the working man’s friend on the campaign trail, Bernie’s response to this uprising by the oppressed proletarian masses was to make like a class enemy and cut the hours of the staffers who wanted him to pay them a living wage.
As Gregg Re of Fox pointed out in a recent column, Sanders’ action had the effect of technically meeting their demands rather than actually paying them more money.
Twitter user @neontaster tweeted an even tougher take, “I can’t stop thinking of how stupid this is. Limiting hours so you can raise wages has literally no effect on how much your employees make. Only benefit is you being able to say you pay them $15 an hour. Beyond cynical.
The situation in the Sanders campaign seems a far cry from March, reports Mr. Calicchio, when Sanders’ campaign proudly announced that its employees had chosen to be represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. In May, the campaign ratified a union contract with the workers, making it the first presidential campaign in history to do so.
At the time, the campaign touted “unprecedented standards for campaign workers,” including pay transparency, a defined wage scale, access to mental health care coverage, an anti-discrimination policy that protects immigrant and transgender staff members, and a “pro-worker grievance and arbitration process.”
Back in 1966 Milton Friedman wrote an op-ed for Newsweek titled “Minimum-Wage Rates” and correctly predicted that the 28% minimum wage hike (from $1.25 to $1.60 per hour) would have negative employment effects for low-skilled workers:
Many well-meaning people favor legal minimum-wage rates in the mistaken belief that they help the poor. These people confuse wage rates with wage income. It has always been a mystery to me to understand why a youngster is better off unemployed at $1.60 an hour than employed at $1.25.
The rise in the legal minimum-wage rate is a monument to the power of superficial thinking.
Senator Sanders may be the first Marxist to have a serious chance of being the Democratic Party’s nominee for President of the United States, but it appears his campaign operates more on the free market economic principles of Milton Friedman than the socialism of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin.
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Photo “Bernie Sanders” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.