Sanders Campaign Slapped with Federal Labor Complaint: ‘Employee Interrogation and Retaliation’

In 1988, then-mayor of Burlington (Vt.) Bernie Sanders traveled to the Soviet Union to establish a “sister city” relationship with the city of Yaroslavl. | Alex Wong/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign is facing a federal complaint made by an unnamed individual alleging violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including allegations of retaliation, repudiation, interrogation, discipline, and discharge, it was revealed Tuesday.

An unnamed individual filed the complaint to the National Labor Relations Board July 19, alleging five potential violations.


  • Concerted Activities (Retaliation, Discharge, Discipline)
  • 8(a)(5) Repudiation/Modification of Contract [Sec 8(d)/Unilateral Changes]
  • 8(a)(3) Discipline
  • 8(a)(3) Discharge (Including Layoff and Refusal to Hire (not salting))
  • 8(a)(1) Interrogation (including Polling)

However, as Bloomberg Law notes, “any person” can file a complaint. It does not necessarily mean a staffer filed the complaint.

“The NLRB has yet to make a determination about whether there is any merit to the allegations,” Bloomberg Law reports.

The accusations follow complaints from Sanders campaign employees, who claimed the campaign was paying “poverty wages.” Union members drafted a letter to Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir, which stated that field organizers “cannot be expected to build the largest grassroots organizing program in American history while making poverty wages.”

“Given our campaign’s commitment to fighting for a living wage of at least $15.00 an hour, we believe it is only fair that the campaign would carry through this commitment to its own field team,” the letter added.

Sanders told the Des Moines Register that he was bothered that the complaints were made public.

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

While he initially said he would address the issue by limiting employee hours, Sanders announced that the campaign reached a deal with unsettled staffers.

“We made an offer which would have addressed that problem several months ago; it was rejected,” Sanders told CNN. “We underwent negotiations. It has now, the offer, it has been accepted.”

“We have and will always be committed to the fight for fair pay, decent work conditions, and a strong labor movement — for our own workers and those all across this country,” Shakir said, following the agreement.

“We’re proud to have successfully negotiated with the union in good faith to raise the pay of field organizers while continuing to ensure our campaign staffers are being paid a living wage,” he added.


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