Oh yes: Bernie Sanders's campaign hit with ... federal labor complaint

What can one say about this?

Except that it’s the greatest day in American political history, I mean.

Am I still an atheist after reading it? I don’t know. I just. don’t. know.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign has been hit with an unfair labor practice complaint alleging illegal employee interrogation and retaliation against staffers.

The July 19 complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, filed by an unnamed individual in Indiana, was posted to the agency’s website late July 22. It comes as tense negotiations between the Sanders campaign and the union representing staffers recently boiled over publicly. The Washington Post reported July 23 that unionized organizers for the campaign had won a pay raise and reached a compromise to reduce the hours of some workers.

A copy of the charge has not yet been made public, but the agency’s July 22 docket lists five potential violations of the National Labor Relations Act. The charge also alleges that the campaign unlawfully discharged an employee, modified a labor contract, and engaged in illegal discipline.

Illegal employee interrogation, eh? On the one hand, Bloomberg notes that anyone can file a complaint with the NLRB. Conceivably this could be nothing more than baseless mischief-making by a political enemy aiming to capitalize on public attention to Team Bernie’s labor troubles lately, knowing that righties like me are going to snuggle this story like a new puppy. File the complaint, generate the bad headline, and trust that no one will be paying attention when it turns out a month from now that there was nothing to it. Damage done.

But there’s also this recent quote from Bernie himself when he was asked about not paying his field organizers an (average) $15 hourly wage, which of course he believes should be the statutory minimum as a matter of national policy:

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

So management was mad at labor for leaking to the press, and now here’s a complaint claiming that managers interrogated employees illegally and even retaliated against them. Hmmm.

We’re like two days away from Bernie sending in Pinkerton goons to crack heads.

Actually, and alas, the fun we’ve been having with the Sanders campaign’s labor problems seems to be ending. Top officials reached a deal with the union this afternoon to boost the pay of field organizers to $42,000 per year in return for extending the work week from five days to six — with an important caveat:

The deal would extend the workweek from five days to six days. But it also would clarify that the expected hours worked each week would be 50. The changes would mean that if the organizers are working 50-hour weeks, then they would make an annual salary equivalent to more than $15 per hour, which Sanders has said for years should be the federal minimum. But if they work longer hours, which the union said could happen, even voluntarily, then the equivalent hourly rate could drop below that threshold.

Sounds to me like all they did here was give everyone a raise in exchange for labor agreeing to maintain the fiction that they’re only working 50 hours a week on average going forward. That solves everyone’s political problem by producing an average hourly wage greater than $15, but in reality, now that they’re coming into the office six days a week instead of five, they’re going to end up working more than 50 hours weekly “voluntarily.” They were already working an average of 60 before this dispute began, in fact. Maybe private employers could use that dodge if and when they get stuck with a national $15 hourly minimum wage. Workers get $15 an hour for their first 30 hours, say, and then the next 10-20 after that consists of “volunteering.” Sounds like a plan.