By Kyle Hooten
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s campaign staffers are demanding wages of at least $15 hourly, but a campaign strategist is calling that prospect “ridiculous,” saying productivity would have to be cut to stay within budget.
After facing criticism earlier in July, the Vermont senator defended how he compensates his staff.
“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 on Friday. “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.”
Sanders’s campaign manager Faiz Shakir said as negotiations continue, the campaign would be “limiting hours,” he told Newsweek.
“We look forward to continuing those discussions and obviously are disappointed that some individuals decided to damage the integrity of these efforts before they were concluded,” he said. “As these discussions continue, we are limiting hours so no employee is receiving less than $15 for any hours worked.”
Republican strategist and campaign manager Joe Desilets told the Daily Caller News Foundation that less than $15 hourly is relatively well-paid for certain positions.
He said $13 hourly is “probably on the high end of standard.”
“What I find ridiculous about this whole thing is that the Sanders campaign is going to get them to $15 [an hour] by cutting hours, which will cut productivity, which will hurt the entire campaign. Staff will end up making as much as they would otherwise, but the campaign is going to get less out of their staff for it,” Desilets said. “If the Sanders campaign cared about more than just juicing the numbers to claim they pay $15 [an hour] they would keep staff hours the same and actually pay $15 [an hour].”
Sanders’s campaign employees also sought equal pay across regions “whether they’re in Washington, D.C., Iowa, New Hampshire or anywhere else,” said UFCW Local 400 President Mark Federici in March, reported The Washington Post.
Desilets said this doesn’t make very much sense, as staff pay “all depends on which part of the country you are in and the other factors that play into supply and demand.”
“If you’re in a rural state or area with a lower supply of prospective grassroots staff or you’re in a marquee race with high demand from multiple campaigns, you might end up paying a lot more for grassroots staff than you would otherwise,” he said.
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