Politics & Policy

Sanders Campaign Workers Demand $15 Hourly Wage

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during the second night of the first Democratic presidential candidates debate in Miami, Fla., June 27, 2019. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

Unionized campaign staffers working for Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) are engaged in a dispute with management over the candidate’s alleged failure to live up to his socialist ideals.

The field organizers have for months demanded an annual salary equivalent to a $15 hourly wage but have been met with resistance from campaign manager Faiz Shakir, according to documents reviewed by the Washington Post.

The workers began demanding a raise in May, arguing that Sanders, who has made a $15 federal minimum wage a centerpiece of his campaign, should honor that commitment in compensating his own staff.

The Sanders campaign, which is one of just three Democratic presidential campaigns to unionize, released a statement last week celebrating the move.

“We know our campaign offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports,” Shakir said. “Every member of the campaign, from the candidate on down, joined this movement in order to defeat Donald Trump and transform America. Bernie Sanders is the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president. We have tremendous staff who are working hard. Bernie and I both strongly believe in the sanctity of the collective bargaining process and we will not deviate from our commitment to it.”

United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400, the union representing the campaign workers, would not comment on the specifics of their negotiations in a statement provided to the Post.

In a draft letter they plan to send to Shakir, the field staff argues 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 $15.00 an hour, we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team.”

The workers have also demanded that the campaign pay 100 percent f healthcare costs for workers making less than $60,000 annually have requested reimbursement for automobile transport at $0.58 per mile.

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