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Bernie Sanders pushes back on Post report on campaign staff wages



Senator Bernie Sanders responded to a Thursday Washington Post report that indicated field organizers within his campaign were unhappy with their compensation and demanding the equivalent of the $15-an-hour pay that Sanders has touted throughout his presidential campaign.

“I’m very proud to be the first presidential candidate to recognize a union and negotiate a union contract,” Sanders 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.”

He added, “It does bother me that people are going outside of the process and going to the media. That is really not acceptable. It is really not what labor negotiations are about, and it’s improper.”

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Field organizers took their concerns to campaign manager Faiz Shakir and demanded an annual salary on par with a $15-and-hour wage, according to the Post, which reviewed internal campaign communications such as emails and instant messages.

The Post said that the negotiations have been happening since at least May and had not been resolved as of its report. A draft letter to Shakir indicated that the field organizers, who are typically the lowest-paid staffers on a campaign, were working 60 hours per week, dropping their hourly pay to $13, according to the Post.

“We know our campaign offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports,” Shakir said in a statement to the Post. “Every member of the campaign, from the candidate on down, joined this movement in order to defeat Donald Trump and transform America. Bernie Sanders is the most pro-worker and pro-labor candidate running for president. We have tremendous staff who are working hard. Bernie and I both strongly believe in the sanctity of the collective bargaining process and we will not deviate from our commitment to it.”

Sanders championed a $15 minimum wage on Thursday after the House passed legislation to lift the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour (though it will face a challenge in passing the Republican-controlled Senate).

“There’s nothing ‘extreme’ about raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Sanders tweeted. “What’s extreme is paying workers starvation wages while CEO pay and corporate profits skyrocket.”

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