[Rushtalk] Union to Bernie, Inc: Give us the $15 per hour you’re promising everyone else

Carl Spitzer {C Juno} cwsiv at juno.com
Fri Jul 19 12:45:14 MDT 2019

Union to Bernie, Inc: Give us the $15 per hour you’re promising everyone

Ed MorrisseyPosted at 10:41 am on July 19, 2019

If you have any leftover popcorn from the Wokeback Mountain War, time to
get it out. Bernie Sanders has demanded an immediate increase in the
minimum wage to $15 an hour for years, and has been a persistent
advocate for unions. When the union representing his campaign workers
demanded that wage for Bernie’s own employees, however, the Washington
Post discovers that Bernie Inc has much different ideas about wages and

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        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.
        Sanders has made standing up for workers a central theme of his
        presidential campaigns — this year marching with McDonald’s
        employees seeking higher wages, pressing Walmart shareholders to
        pay workers more and showing solidarity with university
        personnel on strike. The independent from Vermont has proudly
        touted his campaign as the first presidential effort to unionize
        its employees, and his defense of the working class has been a
        signature element of his brand of democratic socialism and a
        rallying cry for the populist movement he claims to lead.

The Sanders campaign has been fighting this demand since May, according
to the internal communications reviewed by the Washington Post. After
being asked for comment, both the campaign and the union lauded the
unique nature of the union-employer relationship in the campaign
industry. The union bragged about the “myriad protections and benefits”
accorded to members through its contract, and Team Bernie declared that
their willingness to work with a union showed that Sanders is “the most
pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president.”


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All of which is arguably true, as it’s still the only presidential
campaign to organize its workforce. But what about the wages? After all,
Bernie wants to force all American employers to pay a base rate of $15
per hour. Is he willing to put his money where his mouth is?

So far, no, and the union plans to make people aware of the “poverty
wages” being provided by that exploiter of the proletariat:

        A draft letter union members earlier had prepared to send Shakir
        as soon as this week said that the field organizers “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 draft letter estimated that field organizers were working 60
        hours per week at minimum, dropping their average hourly pay to
        less than $13. It said that “many field staffers are barely
        managing to survive financially, which is severely impacting our
        team’s productivity and morale. Some field organizers have
        already left the campaign as a result.”

This gets to a little deception from Team Bernie that any real employer
could have warned would eventually backfire. The union contract
guarantees a salary of $36,000, not a base hourly wage. (Interns get
paid by the hour at $15, however.) As anyone who has transitioned from
hourly to salary knows, employers like to pay salaries because they can
demand more hours worked without paying for overtime. The $36K level,
divided by the normal annual work hours in a year (2,080), comes to
$17.31 per hour. If Bernie Sanders’ field organizers are working 60
hours a week, however, that comes to 3,12o hours in a year and drops
their per-hour rate to … $11.54 per hour. These workers would literally
do better working at Wal-Mart, one of Bernie’s bêtes noires.

But wait — there’s more! This hourly-to-salary dodge is well known and
usually treated harshly by the National Labor Relations Board and the
Department of Labor. Most employers would get called on the carpet for
putting non-supervisory employees — and sometimes non-management — on
salary with constant demands for overtime work. However, since Team
Bernie employees set their own terms through their union representation,
they may not be able to sue for back wages in the way that other
employees might in the private sector for misclassifying their

Why would a union negotiate a contract for front-line employees that
denied them access to legitimate overtime? This sounds like a sweatshop
arrangement, not a breakthrough for political campaigns. It’s trapping
their members in exploitative work conditions. Isn’t that what
unionizing is supposed to prevent?

So much for the Bernie Sanders workers’ paradise. And so much for the
benefits of union representation, especially when the unions have a
bigger investment in the employer than the employee.

Update: This is satire … I think.

        With the influx of freshman Democrat House members following the
        mid-term elections – some of whom have expressed concerns
        about housing or even their next paycheck – some of the more
        seasoned members of the party have organized a charity to help
        their colleagues out. Called “Habitat for Hypocrisy”, it’s a way
        for the new members to get their first luxury mansion while
        still spouting hackneyed socialist platitudes condemning the
        rich and maintaining a posture of “standing up for the little
        Independent, occasionally Democrat, and always socialist Senator
        Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who conceived of the charity,
        explained the origins of the idea.
        “I like socialism,” said Sanders. “But I also like money. Now,
        you can’t actually MAKE money under a socialist system – heck,
        you can’t even make toilet paper – but opportunities for graft
        abound if you have political pull, so you can GET money. The
        problem is, the money has to go somewhere. Me, I put it in real
        estate – I own three houses, each pricier than the last. So now
        everyone calls me Bernie “Three Houses” Sanders, and they know
        I’m a millionaire. If my voter base didn’t self-select for
        blindness and ignorance, I’d be creek-upped and paddleless.”

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