Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be socialist Senator Bernie Sanders who would provide evidence of the negative impact of the minimum wage. I mean, this is the guy who has been calling for an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour at every stop along the campaign trail.
In reality, the minimum wage has no long-term benefits for workers or for those seeking employment … really … none. Quite the contrary. It increases unemployment, postpones future wage increases, reduces workers’ hours, promotes automation, puts marginal enterprises out of business, is quickly overtaken by even nominal inflation and reduces government revenues.
Economists understand all that, but politicians know that raising the minimum wage sounds good as a political issue – reality be damned. It is political snake oil salesmanship.
Weeell … it seems that at least some members of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign staff were not being paid the minimum $15. According to Sanders’ calculations, his workers were not receiving a “living wage.” It seems Mr. Class Warfare has really been a bit of a hypocritical Scrooge. (Hmmm. Actually, Sanders would be perfect for the lead in that holiday production – a least the first part. Yah think?)
In an effort to show his loyalty to organized labor, Sanders claims his is the first presidential campaign to negotiate a union contract – in this case with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. After this fiasco, it is likely to be the last political campaign with union representation. Since a campaign is neither a food vendor nor a commercial enterprise, I am not sure why that particular union is involved – but that is another story.
Allow me to digress to make a point.
Campaigns are usually staffed by both paid and volunteer workers who put in a lot of time off the clock out of dedication. Rarely do you hear of workplace complaints – outside of sexual harassment, of course. Wage issues are almost never subject to dispute – at least in all those other non-union campaigns.
Back to Bernie.
Unionizing the campaign led to complaints from union staffers that there were not being adequately compensated. In fact, some claimed that they were receiving no pay at all for a lot of their working hours.
A letter drafted by the union stated 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.”
Ouch! That is the kind of letter one might send to an Asian sweatshop. It is the kind of statement that Sanders would be expected to make against corporate America – and is actually similar to statements he has made.
In order to meet the demand of $15 for every hour worked, Sanders did what he had to do – what every business in American has to do in such a situation. He had to find a way to cut costs. So, he did what he as long said would never happen if you raised the minimum wage. He cut the hours of the hourly workers. They did not get a pay raise, the just got more time to play computer games at home.
The only thing missing in this story is a worker walkout – or even a strike. I can imagine seeing Sanders show up for his appearances only to face a group of picketing workers with signs reading, “SANDERS UNFARE TO WORKERS.” I wonder if he would cross the picket line.
Sanders only response to the controversy – at least so far – is to lament that his workers are going to the news media with their complaints rather than dealing with them internally. So much for transparency – and since when have Democrats complained about leaks?
When you put this issue alongside Sanders’ million-dollar income, his fancy cars and his multiple residences, he is starting to look like one of those one-percenters he claims to abhor – and a state-of-the-art hypocrite to boot. Beneath that wind-blown hair and rumpled shirt lies a real life Daddy Warbucks.
So, there ‘tis.