A supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) filed a complaint against Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D., Mass.) presidential campaign, claiming their confidentiality agreement with employees is unlawful because it prevents them from publicly speaking about issues in the workplace.
Jason Legg, a tenants' rights attorney and a supporter of Sanders's presidential campaign, challenged the Warren campaign's non-disparagement clause Tuesday. While Legg is not an employee of Warren, the National Labor Relations Board allows there to be charges even if the filer doesn't work for the organization facing allegations, according to Bloomberg Law.
Warren's presidential campaign is the second campaign to face a charge from the NLRB. The Sanders campaign was the first to face a charge after a former Sanders staffer claimed campaign officials were committing unlawful retaliation. Warren's campaign is one of at least three campaigns who have unionized this year, Bloomberg reports:
The filing against the Warren campaign by a non-employee who supports one of the candidate’s challengers suggests that both unionized and non-union campaign operations could continue to deal with complaints over issues that are fairly novel in the political campaign space, where unpaid volunteers, confidentiality, and long hours are the norm. President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign faced claims of labor violations that were dismissed by the NLRB in early 2018.
Legg told Bloomberg Law that he hopes his charge spurs changes in the Warren campaign’s employment practices. He is targeting the campaign’s reported use of unpaid fellowships, as well as non-disparagement agreements that Legg says could stifle staffers’ labor rights.
Legg did not hide the fact that he's backing Sanders and believes labor issues "show the contrast" between Sanders and Warren.
"I can’t say I’m not at all politically motivated, I’m a Sanders supporter and Warren’s my second choice, so I guess this is one way to show the contrast," Legg said. The reported fellowship program "is not consistent with everything else Warren says she believes and fights for" so "I hope people think about the substance of the charge rather than my interest" in supporting a different candidate, he said.
In the charge against the Warren campaign, Legg said they require employees not to "make any statement that may impair or adversely affect the goodwill or reputation of the Organization."
"Such a broad-sweeping restriction on criticism of an employer has been described as flying ‘in the teeth’"of the National Labor Relations Act, Legg added.
Legg said he is challenging the Warren campaign because he has a relative who financially suffered from debt while volunteering for a political campaign. He also talks about how the Sanders campaign was going to make changes based off concerns from their employee union.
"Maybe I’m looking at this through rose-colored glassed [sic], but if this gets good change—like what happened when Sanders cut down on hours to make sure wages aren’t being diluted—then that’d be a good thing," Legg told Bloomberg.