Democratic National Convention Staffers Suing the Party Over ‘Starvation Wages’

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By Emily Zanotti | 3:03 pm, May 15, 2017

The Democratic Party is pushing for raising the minimum wage to $15 around the country, but when it comes to the DNC’s own workers, apparently that’s too much to shell out.


According to a lawsuit filed in Philadelphia against the Democratic National Committee and several state-based Democratic organizations, DNC “field operatives” were paid far less than the $15-per hour “living wage,” and they want the Democrats to pay up.

The staffers, who formed a class action against the DNC, say they were hired to work at $3,000 per month, and worked 80-90 hours a week.  That evens out to just around $8 per hour, which they call “starvation wages”—words they lifted right from the Democratic Platform’s blurb on the Federal minimum wage.

“These workers were out there in a campaign that was promising $15 an hour minimum wage, and expanding the overtime rights of workers,” the operatives’ lawyer, Justin Swidler, told local media.

After the convention, they say the Democratic National Convention Host Committee, a body that is separate but loosely connected to the DNC itself, allocated thousands of dollars to field workers who helped at the convention. It gave bonuses of anywhere from $500 to $300,000 from the convention’s leftover cash, and donated tens of thousands to charity.

The field operatives say they could have easily been the charity the Host Committee “donated” to, especially if they were serious about living up to the standards they want to impose on private corporations and the federal government.

Democrats in charge of the DNC Host Committee, however, have taken a very libertarian approach to the matter. They claim that because the operatives signed a contract guaranteeing them only $3,000 per month, that’s what they should have expected. Principles just don’t apply here.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who chaired the Host Committee, says his operation had its own volunteers (who got bonuses), and if the rest of the DNC’s operatives signed on the dotted line before asking about extra cash, that’s their problem.

But Hillary Clinton field operatives aren’t the only ones who have questions about the bonuses. Dems have been wondering about Rendell’s gift of $310,000 to a man named Kevin Washo, who helped Rendell handle the convention. Rendell says the bonus just helped make Washo whole after he expended his own time and energy on pre-convention volunteer efforts.

Local Democrats claim that Washo was part of a firm that helped Philadelphia secure the convention, and was already paid handsomely for the effort (around $250,000). The bonus, they say, is “double dipping.”