Sen. Bernie Sanders stood with striking federal contract workers this week as they called for a $15 per hour minimum wage. The workers timed their strike to coincide with Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S. to highlight his support for higher wages.
“There is no justice when millions of people throughout our country, including people working in the United States Senate, are working for wages that are too little to take care of their kids, to take care of their family. That’s wrong, that has got to change,” Sanders said, according to Politico. “There is no justice in America when the largest low-wage employer is not McDonalds, it is not Burger King, it is not Walmart. It is the United States government.”
The contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination spoke at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol.
President Barack Obama signed an executive order last year guaranteeing federal contract workers at least a $10.10 per hour wage. But Sanders and the workers say it must be higher.
“The time has come for federal contractors to pay all of their workers no less than $15 an hour, with decent benefits and with the right to form a union,” he said.
Vice President Joe Biden, who has not announced he is running for president, has overtaken Sanders in a recent national poll. Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, first lady and New York senator, remains in the lead with 33 percent, according to a new Bloomberg poll released Wednesday. But Biden is now in second place with 25 percent.
Sanders, who has surprised many with a summer surge in the Democratic primary race, tallied 24 percent — a statistical dead heat with the vice president. Eight percent said they were not yet committed to a candidate.
Sanders has maintained leads in recent polls in both Iowa and New Hampshire, but the Bloomberg poll showing Biden overtaking him nationally shows that it will be difficult for Sanders to maintain strong support after those two early contests. However, the poll also found that about one-third of Democrats still are not familiar with Sanders, while just 6 percent said they are not familiar with Biden.
Sanders was among the first to denounce comments made by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson about the possibility of a muslim serving as president. He was also among the most forceful in his denunciation.
Carson, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press last Sunday, was asked if Islam is consistent with the U.S. Constitution.
“No, I do not,” Carson said. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Sanders’ campaign was quick to denounce the neurosurgeon’s remarks in a statement.
“I am very disappointed that Dr. Carson would suggest that a Muslim should not become president of the United States. It took us too long to overcome the prejudice against electing a Catholic or an African-American president,” Sanders said. “People should be elected to office based on their ideas, not their religion or the color of their skin.”
Sanders will campaign in Massachusetts on Oct. 3, holding rallies in Springfield and Boston. His campaign said he plans to discuss his core issues — income and wealth inequality, the disappearing middle class, campaign finance reform, legislation targeting high prescription drug costs, criminal justice reform and Sanders’ college affordability plan.