Council Candidate Pushing $15/Hour Minimum Wage Only Paying $2.86/Hour

It's "not labor intensive work," Sherrie Cohen's campaign manager says.

Philadelphia City Council-at-Large candidate Sherrie Cohen.

Philadelphia City Council-at-Large candidate Sherrie Cohen.

[UPDATE, 4/16, 6:00 p.m.: In an email sent Thursday to Philadelphia magazine, at-large City Council candidate Sherrie Cohen said “I want you to know that the compensation amount included in the listing you saw was a mistake, and as the candidate, I take full responsibility for it. In fact, no compensation should have been listed, as the position that we are seeking to fill was and is a volunteer position only.”]

In addition to being the dreaded annual event known as Tax Day, April 15th this year has also been dubbed Fight for $15 Day, with minimum-wage workers all over the country demonstrating to demand a $15-per-hour minimum wage.

There are multiple Fight for $15 events in Philadelphia on Wednesday, including one at Broad and Arch streets at 3 p.m. That one will be attended by Fight for $15 supporter and Democratic City Council-at-Large candidate Sherrie Cohen, as her campaign announced on Facebook:
Cohen is an attorney with Tenant Union Representative Network. She’s the daughter of the legendary late Councilman David Cohen, who was a liberal lion in City Hall for 26 years.

So we thought it a bit odd when we found out that Cohen’s campaign is looking for an office manager at a rate of $2.86-per-hour.

Here is the advertisement circulating on the Internet:

Temp Work for Immediate Hire (Now-5/19/15)

Looking for an Office Manager to work on a History-Making City Council- At- Large Campaign.

Job Duties:
Update and Maintain Candidate’s/Campaign Manager’s schedule
General Upkeep of the Office (Inventory and restocking of Supplies)
Greeting various visitors ranging from city officials to voters in need
DRIVE and INITIATIVE are most important, due to the short amount of time needed for this position, it is a very fast paced environment. Must be good at problem solving and team player.
Comfortable with running errands
Comfortable with technology.

Hours and Compensation:
M,T, W, TH,F 11am-6pm (That’s right you have the Weekend to yourself/Must have complete availability)

$400 for the month!

So if you do the math— seven hours of officer manager duties a day, five days a week, for four weeks—you get to 140 hours of erranding, restocking and visitor-greeting at a pay rate of just $2.86 per hour.

Granted, low-paying internships and entry-level campaign positions aren’t particularly uncommon, with the idea being either that you just believe in the candidate so much and can’t wait to break your back for next to nothing or you’re thinking the candidate might actually win and hook you up with a sweet gig in City Hall after the winning campaign is over (or both). But still, isn’t it at least politically naive or at worst hypocritical for a candidate pushing $15-per-hour to offer to pay someone 81 percent less than that?

“It’s kind of low, not labor intensive work,” says Cohen campaign manager Malcolm Kenyatta. “So I don’t see how this is a story. We actually had a volunteer doing it, but that volunteer is an artist and had to leave, so we wanted to compensate whoever came in.”

But, again, compensate them at a rate far less than the one Cohen is fighting for?

“It’s really just scheduling and stuff like that,” explains Kenyatta, adding that his husband might just wind up doing the job for free. “So we might not even be looking anymore.”