Bernie Sanders, who has introduced legislation raising the federal minimum wage incrementally to $15 an hour, pays interns in his U.S. Senate office $12 an hour.
In an announcement in July that he was submitting the bill to correct “a national disgrace,” Sen. Sanders declared he “was proud to stand with Good Jobs Nation and the Fight for 15 organizations” who are pushing to increase the federal rate for hourly workers to $15.
“The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage,” he added.
The summary of the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act, the bill sponsored by Sanders and other Capitol Hill lawmakers, asserts, “No one working full time should be in poverty. It is time to pay workers a living wage of at least $15 an hour.”
Several states and some municipalities have recently raised the minimum wage in their jurisdictions, which prevails over the federal rate. The state of New York, for example, recently raised the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour on a gradual basis.
According the internship FAQ on Sanders’ website, however, pay for his interns who work either in D.C. or in Burlington, Vermont is set at $12 an hour, with college graduates preferred (no high school students). No housing benefits are available, either.
Along these lines, “An advocacy group out of Modesto, Calif. pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage posted a job ad Thursday offering to pay $12 an hour. Below what it is demanding others pay their workers. The Craigslist post was for a job opening at the local Fight for $15 campaign,” The Daily Caller claimed.
A government-imposed hourly minimum wage rate, assuming that such regulatory intervention still makes economic sense in the first place, whether now set at $15, $10.10, or at another arbitrary benchmark, was originally designed as an entry-level pay grade rather than an endpoint.
In the normal course of things, minimum wage employees — and this generally applies to a younger cohort — pick up work experience, new skills, and get promoted to higher-paying positions or land at another company that offers better opportunities. On the other hand, in contemporary society, many would agree that hourly pay needs to be high enough, for example, to incentivize some portion of the population to get off public assistance and permanently enter the workforce.
Whether $15 is about right, still too low, or too high remains to be seen; although, Seattle’s $15 minimum wage in its initial, $11/hour first phase, has reportedly already forced some eateries to go out of business.
There is also a move in the fast-food industry to implement customer self-ordering kiosks, which would likely reduce employee headcount in the long term.
Moreover, while some unethical or unfair businesses in a variety of industries exploit their hard-working labor force with artificially low pay, a one-size-fits-all minimum wage doesn’t distinguish between employers that operate in good faith (and may be struggling to keep their doors open), and those that do not.
Do you think that Bernie Sanders practices what he preaches at the moment when it comes to the $15 minimum wage or a living wage?
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