Democrats face lawsuit over failure to pay minimum wage

  • 15 May 2017
  • NormanL
Democrats face lawsuit over failure to pay minimum wage

One big talking point for Democratic politicians is the pressing need to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. This is framed as a way to lift people out of poverty, to provide dignity for work, and to reduce income inequality.

Except Demcorats aren't interested in paying their own campaign staffers a $15 minimum wage. And some of them have filed a class action lawsuit against the party because of it:

The Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia has paid out nearly a million dollars to staff members, and local institutions, from leftover money it raised to stage the event.

But, dozens of people who worked in the field elsewhere in the country for Democrats feel shortchanged and are now part of a class action federal lawsuit.

The bonuses ranged from $500 for interns to more than $300,000 for the executive director.

“I think everyone’s reaction is the same. It’s obscene,” says Justin Swidler, a Cherry Hill-based attorney.

Swidler is pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of 40-to-50 “field organizers” all over the country, whom he says were denied overtime compensation.

“One of the arguments that the Democrats are making is that they just don’t have the money to pay overtime to their workers,” said Swidler.

The named defendants are the Democratic National Committee, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and five more state party organizations.

“These workers were out there in a campaign that was promising $15 an hour minimum wage, and expanding the overtime rights of workers,” Swidler said.

What's truly obscene is that Pennsylvania taxpyers forked out $10 million to host the DNC last summer, all in the name of "economic development."

But back to the lawsuit...

One of the lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit is Bethany Katz of Rosemont.

Swidler says she and others believed in the Democratic platform and ideals, and put in 80-to-90-hours a week in the last stages of the race to support Hillary Clinton.

“They got paid a flat salary of $3,000 a month, which isn’t even minimum wage for some of the hours that they were working,” said Swidler.

He says the lawsuit seeks “fair pay for fair work,” and holding the Democratic Party to the very ideals that it embraces.

Salaried workers very rarely get paid overtime in the private sector. However, that does not diminish our quiet glee watching the DNC have to argue that it's impossible to pay the minimum wage it wants to impose, by law, on the rest of us.