Report: Sanders Campaign Roiled by Workers Demanding Higher Wages

Workers charge the campaign fails to adhere to Sanders's stated principles

Sen. Bernie Sanders/ Getty Images
July 18, 2019

Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) has made fighting for increased worker pay a major part of his presidential campaign, but the campaign has not been as committed to taking care of its own workers.

The Sanders campaign's workers have been battling campaign management to give them the $15 minimum wage, which Sanders claims all workers must have, according to a report by the Washington Post. Internal communications from the Sanders campaign show field hires demanding an annual salary equivalent to a $15 hourly minimum wage. Earlier this year, the campaign's staff became the first major campaign in history to unionize.

The union representing the campaign staff prepared a draft of a letter to potentially send to Sanders's campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, this week. The letter blasted the campaign for paying "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 letter says.

It also calculated the hourly wage as $13 due to the fact that staffers were working up to 60 hours a week on the campaign.

Last week, according to the Post, dozens of campaign workers logged onto Slack, a messaging app, and sent Shakir a substantial number of messages about workers struggling with their financial situations. "We’ve already had 4 people quit in the past 4 weeks because of financial struggles," one organizer wrote, with another saying that co-workers were forced to rely on payday loans to get by.

A new proposal from the union will push for higher wages, increased health care coverage, and travel reimbursements.

Sanders has made fighting for higher wages a staple of his campaign. In May, Sanders supported McDonald's workers who walked out of work to protest for a $15 minimum wage and unionization rights.

"If Amazon can raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour there is no reason that McDonald’s, a company that took in $1.4bn in profit and paid its CEO $22m, can’t pay its workers a living wage," Sanders said in a statement, according to the Guardian.

Early last month, Sanders showed up to a Walmart shareholders meeting, accusing the company of paying "starvation wages."