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EDITORIAL: Sanders campaign caught paying its employees less than $15 an hour

Bernie Sanders supports a $15 hourly minimum wage for everyone but his campaign staffers.

Last week, House Democrats passed a bill raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Sen. Sanders, I-Vt., was quick to praise and take credit for the effort.

“Four years ago, when I first introduced legislation to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, it was considered an impossible dream,” he said in a statement. “I am proud to say that a $15 minimum wage has gone from laughable to inevitable.”

It’s easy to say you support a $15 an hour minimum wage. It’s harder when you’re the one signing the checks. Just ask the unionized staff on his presidential campaign.

Last week, his staffers leaked details of a pay dispute currently roiling the campaign. Turns out, his entry-level employees were making less than $15 an hour.

The starting pay on the Sanders campaign is $36,000 a year, which is more than $15 an hour if you’re working 40-hour weeks. But the campaign required staffers to work 10 hours a day, six days a week. That brings hourly pay down to $12.

At least someone on his campaign understands the value of being fiscally conservative. If the campaign has to increase employee pay, it’ll either have fewer staffers, staffers who work reduced hours or less money for other priorities. None of these options will help his chances of securing the Democratic presidential nomination.

It’s as if the business owners warning that minimum wage hikes will lead to higher prices, reduced hiring or both aren’t being greedy. They’re constrained by the same fiscal realities now confronting the Sanders campaign.

For the moment, the Sanders camp has reduced its workers’ hours, so that no employee earns less than $15 an hour. This means Sanders’ team will be less productive, which will translate into fewer votes than he would have received otherwise.

Sanders’ team is also upset that someone funneled information about Sanders’ hypocrisy to the media in order to increase the union’s negotiating power.

“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,” campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.

Next thing you know, Mr. Sanders will be complaining that the union is preventing him from firing poorly performing campaign workers.

Mr. Sanders talks frequently about the need for a $15 an hour minimum wage. But as he’s learning the hard way, talk is cheap. Paying an entry-level employee $15 an hour isn’t.

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