Justin Haskins: Hypocritical socialist Bernie Sanders wants more pay for workers – Except his own staff

Self-styled socialist revolutionary – and millionaire – Sen. Bernie Sanders tries to portray himself as the savior of low-wage workers as he campaigns for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. But the low-wage workers toiling away to get him rent-free housing in the White House disagree.

It seems that while Sanders is all too eager to demand that other employers and the government increase wages and benefits for workers, he’s not practicing what he preaches.  

The Washington Post reported last week that since May, Sanders’ unionized campaign staffers have been “battling with … management, arguing that the compensation and treatment they are receiving does not meet the standards Sanders espouses in his rhetoric, according to internal communications.”


The campaign staffers said in a letter to campaign manager Faiz Shakir that they “cannot be expected to build the largest grassroots organizing program in American history while making poverty wages,” the Post reported.

“Many field staffers are barely managing to survive financially,” the letter added.

The staffers on the bottom rung of the campaign ladder, who often work 60 hours or more a week, want what Sanders demands that other employers offer: a wage equivalent to $15 an hour for all hours worked. The Post reported that because field organizers work long hours without extra compensation, their salaries are the equivalent of an average hourly wage of less than $13.

In their labor-management dispute, the field organizers want to see their annual salaries raised from the current $36,000 to $46,800.

But instead of agreeing to pay his poor and downtrodden workers what he likes to call “a living wage,” the U.S. senator from Vermont seems to be embracing the views of the oppressive and evil (according to him) capitalists he rails against on the campaign trail, and has not agreed to give them the raise they want.

Responding to a wave of criticism sparked by the Washington Post story, Sanders told the Des Moines Register over the weekend that he will limit the number of hours staffers work to 42 or 43 hours per week to ensure they get the equivalent of $15 an hour. But that does nothing to address the complaint of campaign staffers that they aren’t making enough “to survive financially” – and it’s hard to believe they will be working fewer hours as the campaign season heats up.

In addition, Sanders – who gives fiery campaign speeches in support of “Medicare-for-all” to provide free health care of all Americans – has not agreed to a union proposal to pay all health care costs for campaign staffers earning less than $60,000 a year.

The socialist senator – shall we call him Comrade Bernie? – regularly condemns the rich and the powerful. But now, in an exercise in blatant hypocrisy, the rich and powerful lawmaker is denying his workers what he says all Americans should have – at least $15 an hour for their work and free health care.

But if health care truly is a “right” that everyone is entitled to – as Sanders claims in his campaign speeches – then he should lead by example and give every one of his employees full health insurance coverage.

Why won’t Sanders reach into his campaign war chest and provide free BernieCare for everyone who works for him? Because his campaign can’t afford it – just like many businesses and individuals across the country wouldn’t be able to afford the incredibly high taxes needed to pay

for Sanders’ “Medicare-for-all” pie-in-the-sky proposal.

The socialist senator – shall we call him Comrade Bernie? – regularly condemns the rich and the powerful. But now, in an exercise in blatant hypocrisy, the rich and powerful lawmaker is denying his workers what he says all Americans should have – at least $15 an hour for their work and free health care.

If there was an Olympic competition for hypocrisy, Sanders would walk away with the gold medal.

In “The Communist Manifesto,” communism’s founder Karl Marx famously wrote in 1848: “Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

Sanders seems to be telling his campaign workers they need to unite not with each other but  behind him, because he has nothing to lose but the Democratic presidential nomination.

And in his relentless pursuit of campaign cash and personal income, Sanders seems to be turning a well-known line from President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural on its head.

Kennedy inspired the American people when he said in 1961: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Sanders seems to be saying: ask not what Bernie can do for you, ask what you can do for Bernie.

And instead of being true to the views of Karl Marx, Sanders seems to  be following the path of another Marx who made millions of dollars saying silly and laughable things – Groucho Marx.

But while Americans realized Groucho was supposed to be funny when he came up with preposterous schemes that were so ridiculous they prompted uproarious laughter, Sanders’ socialist nonsense is actually being taken seriously by millions of people.

To say Sanders’ latest campaign debacle is embarrassing is a massive understatement.

Instead of being the socialist revolutionary and taking from the rich and giving to the poor like a modern-day Robin Hood, Comrade Bernie is acting like a capitalist business owner (pardon the expression) who has to limit worker pay in order to stay in business.

Even more remarkable is the fact that when confronted with the concerns of the exploited proletariat on the Sanders’ campaign, campaign manager Shakir defended the Sanders’ pay practices by appealing to free-market principles.

“We know our campaign offers wages and benefits competitive with other campaigns, as is shown by the latest fundraising reports,” Shakir said, sounding like the manager of a fast-food restaurant refusing to raise the pay of his staff – you know, the kind of folks, Karl Marx called “wage slaves.” 

Shakir’s statement is dripping with irony. The foundation of Sanders’ effort to impose a higher minimum wage is that it doesn’t matter what the market pays for any given job, which means what other campaigns pay their staffers should be irrelevant.

Sanders’ demand for government-mandated wage increases is dependent on the idea that it’s “unfair” for people to earn less than $15 per hour – even young people with no job experience –regardless of what the free market pays. If Sanders says businesses must pay more money than the market dictates, then he should pay more, too.

The clash between the Sanders campaign management and unionized staff also highlights the absurdity and greed of the left’s organized labor movement.

While the union rank-and-file working for Sanders fight to earn $15 per hour, the campaign’s “bargaining unit deputies” have been pulling down exorbitant salaries of $100,000 plus benefits, eating up funds that could have been used to help Sanders capture the Democratic presidential nomination or pay lower-level employees higher salaries.

As is often the case, union leaders seem to care more about themselves than they care about most union workers or what’s good for the business they work for – which in this case is Comrade Bernie’s campaign.

This isn’t the first time Sanders has been caught refusing to practice what he preaches. Despite enjoying a cult-like following, Sanders hasn’t lived by the dogmas of his own socialist gospel. In fact, he’s made a fortune as a capitalist who peddles socialism.

Thanks to his lucrative book deals, the senator’s net worth now tops more than $2.5 million. Sanders also owns three beautiful homes, including a luxurious four-bedroom summer house located on Vermont’s Lake Champlain, which he purchased in 2016 for more than a half-million dollars.

Some might be surprised by this socialist’s willingness to adopt some free-market principles to his own benefit. But they shouldn’t be. This is precisely how most socialist leaders throughout history have behaved.


From the socialist leader’s perspective, when it comes to others it’s perfectly acceptable to confiscate wealth and punish success. But those standards don’t apply to members of the ruling class like Comrade Bernie. They get to live by a completely different set of rules, one that conveniently allows them to live a life of luxury while the rest of us stand in lines waiting for our government-issued loaf of bread.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the complaints of regular folks in North Korea, Venezuela, or – as we have most recently learned – the Sanders presidential campaign.