Why a socialist party's $13 hourly rate has some seeing red

The Freedom Socialist Party would have done well to pay heed to the century-old suffragette slogan "Deeds Not Words."

The political party is drawing criticism over a job listing posted on Craigslist earlier this month. Although the posting seeking a Web content manager provided some encouragement for progressive-minded applicants -- "interest in the fights for women's/LGBTQI/people of color/immigrant rights, as well as other pressing social issues, is encouraged" -- the listed pay rate of $13 per hour was far below the party's own calls for a $20 per hour minimum wage.

While that's far above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, the discrepancy between the advertised wage and the group's 2012 platform raised a red flag for critics. In its 2012 platform, the group wrote that it was in favor of a "government that helps the needy, not the greedy," and cited the $20 hourly wage as a goal.

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So how does a group that wants to almost triple the minimum wage end up offering far less to a prospective employee? The party's national secretary, Doug Barnes, told The Huffington Post that the group depends on donations from low-paid workers and can't afford to pay more.

"We're practicing what we're preaching in terms of continuing to fight for the minimum wage," Barnes told the publication. "But we can't pay a lot more than $13."

The group has since tweaked its job ad to take out the specific mention of its $13 per hour offer; instead, the ad now reads, "DOE," meaning that the pay is dependent on experience.

That hasn't kept critics from taking aim at the organization, with conservative media outlet National Review asking its readers, "Can you see what's wrong with this picture?" Others were more blatantly critical, calling the group hypocritical and a sign of a failed ideology.

In an email to CBS MoneyWatch, Anne Guerry Hoddersen, international secretary for the group, wrote that when it ran its campaign for the $20 per hour rate, it failed to grab the attention of national media outlets.

"Clearly all the noise now over paying $13 an hour is politically motivated -- from the right," she wrote. She added that the group depends on working-class supporters, and if their wages go up, the group will be able to pay more.

"There are other reasons to work for an employer than money. Meaningful work, a workplace free of discrimination and sexual harassment, and authoritarian bosses who don't understand when your children get sick or the childcare worker doesn't show up, etc.," she wrote. "We can't offer a lot of money so we offer other things---15 paid holidays a year including birthdays and May Day."

The group may have another problem beyond falling short of its ideological goals. A $13 hourly rate for a Web content manager is far below the average industry rate. According to employment site Glassdoor.com, the national average for a such a position is $55,000 per year, but the $13 hourly rate equates to only $27,040 per year.

Given the job is located in Seattle, the Freedom Socialist Party may face an added difficulty in recruiting a technology worker at that rate. After all, the region is home to tech giants such as Microsoft and Amazon.com, companies that have the financial wherewithal to pay the going rate for Web specialists.

Still, Hoddersen noted that the group has received qualified applicants for the job.

The group's national secretary told the Huffington Post that he viewed the attacks from critics as a sign of their own hypocrisies.

"These are the same people who fought against the minimum wage and support companies like Walmart," he said.