Bernie Sanders has been one of the leading proponents of a $15 minimum wage in the U.S. Senate. However, he is not exactly practicing what he preaches in his daily operations.
According to a Washington Post story, Sanders is not paying his campaign workers enough. Some of his employees even claim they are only getting paid $13 per hour for a 60-hour workweek. Now, they’re demanding more pay, hoping Sanders will apply his legislative vision to his campaign.
Some members of Sanders’ campaign staff complain that they’re now turning to payday loans to make ends meet, and four people have already quit during the last month because of financial troubles.
Interestingly, these demands for higher wages came a few months after Sanders campaign workers decided to unionize.
The agreement established wage classifications for national and regional staff. And the compensation ranged from $15 per hour for interns and canvassers to $100,000 salaries for bargaining unit deputies.
Field organizers, however, were paid according to an annual salary at $36,000. Regional field directors were slated to be paid $48,000, and statewide department directors were to earn $90,000 annually.
However, after the agreement was established, the Sanders campaign met tremendous pushback.
The Vermont senator’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir quickly called a meeting with all of the staff present to propose an agreement with some modest pay raises. In the end, Shakir’s proposal was soundly rejected via union vote.
Currently, the union is offering up another proposal that will most likely eat up a significant portion of the campaign budget.
ZeroHedge reported on some of the demands:
- That field organizers receive a salary of $46,800, while regional field directors be paid $62,400.
- That the campaign cover 100% of the health-care costs for employees making $60,000 or less a year (currently, the campaign pays all premiums for salaried employees making $36,000 or less, while those making more are covered at a rate of 85%).
- That campaign staff be reimbursed for automobile transportation at $0.58 per mile while they’re traveling around canvassing for Sanders.
In a letter to Shakir, which the Washington Post obtained, the campaign workers stated that 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 an hour, we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team.”
From the looks of it, the Sanders campaign is now witnessing what the economic realities of a potential $15 minimum wage proposal look like.
Sanders has every right to pay his workers $15 an hour or higher. However, with rights come responsibilities. One of them is the reality of running a business. If employers do not value a worker’s labor at $15, but value their labor at a lesser wage of $5, they simply will not hire them. In some cases, hiring workers at artificially high wage rates could prove fatal for certain businesses. To survive, they either lay off workers, reduce work hours, or shift towards automation.
For Ivory tower academics and politicians that are completely detached from the challenges of running a business, these kinds of dynamics seem foreign. But for small businesses, they’re part and parcel of daily operations. Any drastic move to raise wages above the normal market rate could sink these humbler outfits.
However, in the era of “social justice,” economic laws are an afterthought. The radicalization of the Sanders campaign is no secret. Sanders made waves by hiring the likes of David Sirota, a known apologist of Venezuelan socialism, as his speechwriter. Given this hiring and his frequent calls for more government involvement in economic affairs, it should be no surprise that Sanders is now pushing for more radical wage control measures on the 2020 campaign trail.
Should his campaign team follow through with his vision, it could ironically end up costing him as he would have to lay off campaign workers because of the higher wages. In this scenario, it would just be confined to his campaign. But in the case of actual legislation, this would affect all businesses big or small. There’s simply no escaping the law, no matter how bad the legislation in question is.
For that reason, we should give the $15 minimum wage the cold shoulder.