Campaign Staffers Turn on Bernie Sanders, Demand $15-an-Hour Min. Wage

‘Bernie Sanders is the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president…’

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(Brian Freimuth, Liberty Headlines) In an ironic turn of events, the unionized campaign staffers working for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., have turned against their socialist presidential candidate, demanding a $15 an hour minimum wage.

On Thursday, The Washington Post reported that it obtained a draft of a letter written by a group of Sanders’s staffers that called for an increase in their hourly wages.

Sanders’s staffers unionized under the United Food & Commercial Workers Local 400.

The group sent a revised version of the letter to the Sanders’s campaign manager, Faiz Shakir demanding that they be paid the same $15-an-hour minimum wage that Sanders has pushed for during his campaign and career as a senator.

The draft sent to Shakir stated that Sanders’s campaign staffers “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.”

Sanders on Friday defended his staff’s pay, saying that their wages were at least $15 an hour, along with benefits.

“I’m very proud to be the first presidential candidate to recognize a union and negotiate a union contract,” he told the Des Moines Register.

“And that contract was ratified by the employees of the campaign, and it not only provides pay of at least $15 an hour, it also provides, I think, the best health care benefits that any employer can provide for our field organizers.”

According to Sanders, the field organizers—typically those early in their careers and still in their 20s—are paid $36,000 plus benefits.

But the issue seemed to be that many still considered the pay to be inadequate for the amount of time and effort they were putting in.

The authors of the letter claimed that due to the base salary structure, staffers who work more than 60 hours a week for Sanders’s campaign have their wages effectively dropped to $13 an hour.

The authors of the draft letter called this a “poverty wage” and demanded a $46,800 salary for field organizers and $62,400 for regional field directors.

The draft letter called the current pay-rates “unsustainable” and demanded that negotiations take place before July 31. The author of the letter said that four staffers have quit due to low pay, and stated that workers “shouldn’t have to get payday loans to sustain themselves.”

Shakir responded to the letter by lauding the Sanders campaign’s efforts to fight for a just collective-bargaining process in America.

“Every member of the campaign, from the candidate on down, joined this movement in order to defeat Donald Trump and transform America,” Shakir said. “Bernie Sanders is the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president.”

Sanders himself told the Des Moines paper that he was disappointed in the staffers having decided to raise the issue publicly rather than internally.

“It does bother me that people are going outside of the process and going to the media,” he said. “That is really not acceptable. It is really not what labor negotiations are about, and it’s improper.”

The wage dispute was but the latest example of the troubled Sanders campaign having its own espoused virtues turned against it. Following his 2016 campaign, staffers raised concerns about sexist behavior and sexual harassment running rampant within the ranks.

Sanders said he was too busy campaigning to notice the issues within his own system, but he pledged to do better next time around.

Among the ways Sanders said he would challenge the sexist culture of his campaign was to seek out a young female to be his running mate. He also hired a college-age, female, illegal immigrant to be his press secretary.

Sanders previously called on President Donald Trump to resign after alleging—without evidence—that the president had been guilty of sexual misconduct.