[guest post by JVW]
Well this is certainly a fun story:
Unionized campaign organizers working for Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential effort are battling with its management, arguing that the compensation and treatment they are receiving does not meet the standards Sanders espouses in his rhetoric, according to internal communications.
Campaign field hires have demanded an annual salary they say would be equivalent to a $15-an-hour wage, which Sanders for years has said should be the federal minimum. The organizers and other employees supporting them have invoked the senator’s words and principles in making their case to campaign manager Faiz Shakir, the documents reviewed by The Washington Post show.
The Sanders campaign is paying field hires a flat $36,000 salary, but these workers are allegedly facing six-day, sixty-hour workweeks, which brings the hourly rate down to around $11.50. Naturally, the workers, who are unionized and affiliated with the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, have taken to heart the demagoguery of the angry old Marxist and are complaining that they are barely managing to survive, using payday loans to help through the hard times and struggling to afford food.
But I am not so sure that this is an instance of hypocrisy on the part of the Vermont Senator, at least not the traditional hypocrisy of “do as I say, not as I do.” The Bezos Bugle explains:
[O]n May 17, [campaign manager Faiz] Shakir convened an all-staff meeting, during which he recommended raising the pay for field organizers to $42,000 and changing the workweek specifications, according to an email he later wrote to staff. The union draft indicated he was seeking to extend the workweek to six days.
Shakir pressed for a swift vote so he could make budget decisions and decide how many field organizers to hire, according to his email.
The union rejected his offer, because the raise would have elevated field staff to a pay level responsible for paying more of their own health-care costs, according to the draft proposal the union was preparing this week. [emphasis added]
How do you like them apples? Senator-Medicaid-for-All ain’t springing for “free” healthcare and the earnest progressive field staff doesn’t want to jeopardize their access to Obamacare vouchers by taking in more salary. So naturally, they have a two-pronged demand: raise their pay to $46,800 and cover 100% of health care costs for any staffer who makes below $60,000. Mr. Shakir understandably complains that the campaign’s budget has already been drawn-up and approved based upon the original figures, and changes at this point would impact the number they can afford to employ. It is unknown whether or not the Senator has been apprised of the situation. The Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro campaigns also have unionized campaign staff, so it will be interesting to find out if they are facing similar challenges.
I have an idea for the Sanders campaign. How about the field staffers stay with their $36k salaries and Obamacare vouchers and just dial-back their work-week to 40 hours? That would keep them at the $15 per hour wage ($17.30 per hour, to be exact). Maybe if the campaign really is pressuring them to work more than 40 hours, the campaign can do the woke progressive thing and pay time-and-a-half for overtime. And if the campaign decides that this costs too much money and decrees that all Sanders workers limit their workweeks to 40 hours, then the workers will get a taste of how the world of private business actually works which might disabuse them of some of their dopier economic notions. Given that young workers in progressive campaigns have a sad predilection for — how to put it gently? — leading less-than-joyous lives, a 40-hour limit might encourage them to develop a personal life outside of their own little bubbles and make them happier and better-adjusted citizens.
In the meantime, though, it’s fun watching progressives hoisted on their own petards.