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NLRB Charges Filed Against Bernie Sanders

The Sanders campaign is accused of firing workers over union activity and failing to pay $15/hr

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jul 26, 2019

The Bernie Sanders campaign is in some hot water after staffers filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). While the identity of the person who filed the claim is not known, details have leaked out.  

According to the complaint, campaign leaders retaliated against a staffer who was organizing the bargaining unit and sent an email requesting compliance with the collective employment contract. They go on to allege that at least three campaign workers were fired in retaliation for their organizing and union activities.

The campaign workers voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 in March, making them the first Presidential campaign to organize a union. Since then a number of other campaign staff have organized with a variety of different unions.

In addition to the charge that Sanders fired employees for union activity, the complaint alleges that the campaign violated the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) by forcing staffers to work additional days and failing to provide commensurate days off. When the individual named in the complaint attempted to enforce the contract, the campaign took action against the employee.

“From Sen. Sanders on down, respects the rights of all of its employees to speak collectively and bargain about their terms and conditions of employment, and it supports the mission of the NLRB to enforce worker and union rights,” management said in a prepared statement. “That is exactly why the Bernie 2020 campaign voluntarily recognized the employees’ chosen union and engaged in good faith bargaining that resulted in a historic collective bargaining agreement.”

They went on to say that management will cooperate with the NLRB, but they say that “We are confident that they will find the campaign honors all of its employees’ rights to both the letter and spirit of the law.” This last statement should worry people though. Sanders is in a unique situation because unlike a private company, he has oversight over the NLRB through his seat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee. It doesn’t seem appropriate to issue a statement like this to the regulators that you oversee.

The Sanders campaign is also facing backlash from their staff union who have been locked in a weeks-long dispute over pay. According to organizers, the long work hours that are expected on the campaign have driven their wages below the $15/hr threshold. Of course one of Sanders main talking points on the campaign trail is raising the minimum wage to $15/hr.

If Bernie Sanders is going to travel across the country leading a “revolution” for better wages and economy that works for everyone, he might want to try starting with his own campaign. He has raised tens of millions of dollars over the last year, he should be able to pay a living wage to his hard-working staff and if his staff can’t abide by the CBA, it might be time for a revolution within the Sanders campaign.

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