Kshama Sawant, a socialist and a member of the Seattle, Wash. City Council, is paying no fewer than five campaign staff employees as independent contractors — thus evading the payment of payroll taxes, overtime, social security and other insurance.
The avowed protector of workers from the evils of capitalist exploitation has spent $12,000 paying her employees so far as she fights for reelection, according to KIRO Radio.
“Sawant has been skirting the rules by not paying into the public workers’ safety net,” Josh Feit of state political blog PubliCola explained, according to KIRO.
The socialist does not appear to have provided any benefits to her five employees beyond cash payments for services provided.
By way of comparison, fellow city council member Jean Godden has spent roughly $6,000 on independent contractors. Tim Burgess has spent a little over $2,000. Mike O’Brien hasn’t spent a dime.
Godden, Burgess and O’Brien are not socialists.
Phillip Locker, one of the Sawant’s contractors, defended his boss by saying that the practice of paying campaign employees as independent contractors is typical among American politicians.
At the same time, Sawant’s reelection website stresses that she is not a typical politician.
“Kshama does not take a penny in corporate cash,” her volunteer-sign-up page explains, for example. “We are building a grassroots alternative to corporate politics.”
Locker also noted that Sawant doesn’t want large corporations to pay employees exactly the same way she pays her own employees.
“We are absolutely against that,” Locker said according to KIRO. However, he rationalized, there are “times when it is appropriate for someone to be an independent contractor.”
Back in 2010, The New York Times cited a federal study which found that up to 30 percent of employers across the United States misrepresent regular workers as independent contractors. Some 3.4 million employees are affected.
Sawant was first elected to Seattle’s municipal legislature in 2013. Before that, she taught economics at a local community college.
The socialist council member proudly takes credit for the fact that Seattle’s nine-member city council passed an ordinance raising the local minimum wage to $11 as of this April. The law will raise the city’s minimum wage annually in one dollar increments to $15 each hour for all businesses by 2019.
A $15-per-hour minimum wage translates to an annual salary of about $30,000 for full-time employees.
Seattle’s socialists continue to have fascinating problems abiding by the labor laws they themselves champion.
This fall, the Freedom Socialist Party (the owner of the domain name Socialism.com) advertised a part-time job for an experienced web developer paying $13 per hour. (RELATED: Seattle Socialist Party Wants $20 Per Hour Minimum Wage, Offers $13 Per Hour For Website Manager)
The Freedom Socialist Party wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $20 per hour.
The $13-per-hour ad for a web content manager job appeared on both Indeed.com and Craigslist. The socialists offering the job demanded “familiarity with HTML/CSS” and Photoshop. The latter is a graphics editor developed by Adobe Systems, an $18 billion private company.
In 2012, the Freedom Socialist Party’s national platform championed “full employment” — not part-time — at a minimum of “$20 an hour” in all jobs.
The 2012 political platform also demanded a 70 percent tax rate for “the top 1 percent;” “unilateral U.S. nuclear disarmament;” “free multi-lingual public education, including ethnic studies, through college and trade school;” free abortions; bank nationalization; and the cancellation of all free-trade treaties.
Despite the job offer of a part-time, 20-hour-per-week, $13-per-hour job, the party also called for a 30-hour work week for everyone “with no cut in pay” and “a guaranteed annual income.”
The Seattle branch of the Freedom Socialist Party appears to be located in an apartment building directly across the street from a Bank of America branch.
Here’s a screenshot of the October ad as it appeared on Indeed.com: