Bernie Sanders pays his staff less than his proposed minimum wage

It was not completely clear why the wage dispute began so swiftly after the campaign and the union reached the initial agreement, though at that point the campaign had yet to assemble its sprawling roster of field organizers. But on May 17, 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.

The campaign workers decided to press harder. On July 11, dozens logged into Slack, the popular instant-messaging service used by the campaign’s employees, and began bombarding Shakir with appeals to raise pay for field organizers.

“Hi @Faiz,” the messages began. They poured in from across the country.

“I am struggling financially to do my job, and in my state, we’ve already had 4 people quit in the past 4 weeks because of financial struggles,” wrote one field organizer. Another employee said his co-workers “shouldn’t have to get payday loans to sustain themselves.”

A third said he supported the demands for higher wages “because I need to be able to feed myself.” A fourth quoted a line Sanders often uses in speeches, writing, “As you know, real change never takes place from the top on down, it always takes place from the bottom on up.”

The messages caught Shakir’s attention, and later that day he sent an email to the staff thanking them for their comments. “I do believe you are owed an explanation for the situation we find ourselves in,” he wrote in an email obtained by The Post.

In his email, Shakir recapped his thinking from May 17 and expressed regret with the outcome.

“I have no idea what debates and conversations were had, but candidly, it was a disappointing vote from my perspective,” he wrote of the union’s decision to reject his proposal. “But the campaign leadership respected the union process and the will of the membership.”

Shakir said that it would be damaging to the campaign’s budget to implement a pay hike after expanding field staff based on previously planned salary figures. In conclusion, he said, he would negotiate the matter only through the channels established by the union arrangement.

This week, the union, in conjunction with the Sanders campaign staffers it represents, has been preparing to send Shakir a new proposal. According to a draft of the proposal obtained by The Post, they are asking for $46,800 for field organizers and $62,400 for regional field directors.

The draft also asked the campaign to cover 100 percent of the health-care costs for employees making $60,000 per year or less. Under the current agreement, the campaign pays all premiums for salaried employees making $36,000 or less per year. Those making more are covered at a rate of 85 percent.

It also requested that the campaign reimburse field staff for automobile transportation at $0.58 per mile.

“We expect negotiations and concessions to be given to this committee by July 31st at the latest, given the urgent nature of raising pay for Field staff and the unsustainability of the current situation,” the draft said.

Sanders, meanwhile, has continued his push for a $15-an-hour wage across the country, hailing the bill recently passed by the House to set that as the federal minimum. In an online video, his campaign featured an Iowa woman who has fought cancer and says she is struggling on $8.25 an hour from her job at McDonald’s.

“Today, we say as loudly and clearly as we can to McDonald’s: Pay your workers a living wage and negotiate with a union!” Sanders says as the video concludes.

Source Article from

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