Fight for 15 champion DNC sued for not paying minimum wage

posted at 4:31 pm on May 15, 2017 by Jazz Shaw

With a hat tip to America Rising Squared, it’s worth noting that the DNC (and Big Labor) is off to a rough start this week. There’s an embarrassing lawsuit percolating in Pennsylvania where a group of Democratic campaign workers are upset with the state party and the leadership of the national committee. The reason? They were apparently working their tails off for them during the 2016 campaign, laboring to help the party who was promising to Fight for 15 and give a “living wage” to everyone. Unfortunately, as Sam Dorman at the Free Beacon explains, those generous wages were not intended for the party’s own workers out on the streets. In fact, some of them weren’t even getting minimum wage.

Dozens of field workers have filed a class action lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, claiming the party that is pushing employers to pay a $15 minimum wage and more in overtime failed to pay overtime and minimum wages to its own employees.

Justin Swidler, the attorney representing the field workers, argued the Democratic Party failed to pay workers a minimum wage and denied them overtime compensation. Swidler “says the lawsuit seeks ‘fair pay for fair work,’ and holding the Democratic Party to the very ideals that it embraces,” according to CBS Philly.

If you’re talking Pennsylvania Democratic Party business you can’t help but have former Governor Ed Rendell involved. He was not only instrumental in the party efforts in his own state but served as the chair of the Democratic National Convention Host Committee. While insisting that the workers bringing this lawsuit didn’t work directly for his committee, he’s quoted as saying that he warned the people they did hire well in advance that they would be receiving what he described as, “substandard pay.”

But how substandard was it? They’re talking about Get Out The Vote workers who are rounded up to hit the streets. It’s a very irregular work schedule (trust me… I’ve been involved in some on the other side) and the hours can be long. The plaintiffs are saying that some of them were putting in 80 to 90 hours a week and getting a flat rate of $3,000 per month. In reality, that’s really not a bad rate for that type of work. Yes, you can wind up putting in 12 hour days, seven days a week toward the end of a campaign, but you go into it knowing that it’s largely more of a volunteer effort and you’re just getting a stipend to make sure you can keep your bills covered and some bad road food in your belly.

But their point does stand in terms of the hypocrisy on display. And this isn’t the first time that Rendell has been involved in such discussions. In the final month of the campaign he was actually complaining about Hillary Clinton not putting up enough cash to adequately pay the folks who were hitting the streets. Check out this report from last November. (Philly.com, emphasis added)

FORMER GOV. Ed Rendell, a longtime booster of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambitions, tells Clout that her campaign has built a “tremendous field operation” to turn out votes Tuesday in Pennsylvania. But Clinton’s campaign apparently isn’t budging on its refusal to put up so-called “street money” for the Democratic City Committee, cash that filters down to the division level to help fund the push for voter turnout…

Rendell said the asking price for street money is $200 per division. With 1,686 divisions in the city, that’s $337,200 in street money. But we heard from another Democratic source that the payout could be as low as a measly $150 per division.

A Democratic operative who heard about the $150 figure chimed in, telling Clout: “They have to get to $200 per division. They’re asking people to work a 10- or 12-hour day. You can’t pay them less than minimum wage.”

Isn’t that odd? When it was Clinton putting up the money, working people 12 hours a day for less than minimum wage was unacceptable. But when the shoe was on the other foot he had given fair warning of “substandard wages.” You need to practice what you preach, guys. Pleading poverty because of limited campaign funds is no excuse. Either your workers deserve the benefits of the Fight for 15 or nobody does. Just imagine the complaints if you’d won and had to deliver on that promise now.


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