The Pennsylvania senate race is getting heated, especially after Sen. Arlen Specter lobbed a bomb at challenger Joe Sestak over how much he pays his staffers. Sestak, a congressman from suburban Philadelphia, fought to increase the minimum wage in 2007, yet story after story is coming out about how he paid 10 of his 16 campaign staffers less than the required $7.25 an hour. And I was one of them.
While spending only one month on the campaign, I was paid a total of $550. Hardly enough money for anyone to live on, but I figured it would be a good opportunity to broaden my skills and build my resume while looking for a job. Before accepting the offer, I calculated the hourly wage and found that I would earn $3.18 per hour. What's more, you rarely work just 40 hours per week in a campaign, so in actuality, I was making roughly $1.60 per hour. That's insanity. And it's partly the reason why many good political minds have left his campaign.
After that first month in October, the campaign wanted me to move east to work out of their Philadelphia headquarters. That would be nearly impossible with my life and a house rooted in suburban Pittsburgh. So I countered with a substantial, but fair, salary offer that I thought equaled my level of experience. They flatly rejected it. I flatly quit.
Some say Specter's claim shows he is bankrupt of good policy debates, but I think this argument is very important. How can the Democratic Party nominate a person like Sestak for U.S. Senate when he doesn't even abide by the laws he helped form? I don't have an ax to grind with Sestak, but I would advise him to pay his people what they're worth or expect a blowout in the May primary.
5 days ago