Bloomberg’s Job Security Promises Are Falling Through, Campaign Workers Say

When the multibillionaire Michael R. Bloomberg hired an army of staff members for his presidential campaign, he lavished them with salaries that were nearly double what other candidates were paying. His campaign also promised something rivals could not match: job security through the general election, even if he dropped out of the race.

But now, less than a week after Mr. Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, left the Democratic presidential race — endorsing former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and pledging to put his vast resources behind him — hundreds of Mr. Bloomberg’s field organizers and regional organizing directors around the country are suddenly without jobs, having received emails on Monday that encouraged them to keep their campaign-issued electronics as a sort of severance payment.

In a series of conference calls on Monday, campaign staff members outside certain battleground states learned that their work had ended and that they would be paid through the end of March, according to seven people who were on such calls. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing nondisclosure agreements they had signed with the campaign, from which they were seeking to be released.

“We sincerely appreciate your commitment and dedication over the past few months!” read an email that the workers received, which was reviewed by The New York Times. “As a token of our appreciation, we are offering you the opportunity to keep your laptop and iPhone.”

The email specified the value of those devices — ranging from $1,400 to $1,700, depending on the model of the computer — and noted that employees would be required to pay taxes on those amounts.

The former campaign workers — at-will employees who said they had been promised employment through November in job interviews — were asked in a survey to indicate if they wanted to be referred to another presidential campaign, and if they were open to moving to one of six states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

A spokeswoman for the Bloomberg campaign said in a statement on Monday that the campaign had been clear about its intention to focus on those states as the field of primary candidates narrowed.

“As we’ve said over the course of the campaign, this election will come down to six battleground states,” the statement said. “It’s imperative that we invest there with staff and infrastructure. Staff who were working in non-battleground states and would like to learn about future opportunities in the battleground states are being asked to let us know so we can consider them for jobs there.”

The former staff members, some of whom said they were consulting employment lawyers, said they had asked to be released from the nondisclosure agreements, calling it unfair to be unable to talk about their work for the campaign as they found themselves unemployed and searching for new jobs. Some people had moved to new states for the campaign, receiving stipends to relocate for what they had expected would be nearly a year.

On Monday, some of the affected staff members turned their organizing efforts inward, seeking to reach senior campaign aides who might have been involved in the decision.

In ramping up operations quickly after Mr. Bloomberg declared his candidacy last November, the campaign used pay as a powerful recruitment tool, assembling a legion of workers across the country and offering unusually high salaries. Field organizers were offered $6,000 a month, nearly twice the $3,500 that other campaigns paid.

Bloomberg campaign staff members said they were told they had job security, mitigating the risk that typically accompanies such work. Some said they had taken leaves of absence from jobs that they were unable to reclaim until the end of the year. Some field organizers said they had turned down competing, full-time job offers in favor of working on Mr. Bloomberg’s bid.

Over the course of his 14-week campaign, Mr. Bloomberg emphasized his commitment to unseating President Trump and promised to support whoever won the Democratic nomination. Last week, days before he exited the race, he specified that he planned to keep his “main field offices” open, regardless of the results on Super Tuesday.

Having won only American Samoa in those primary contests, Mr. Bloomberg dropped out of the race the next day, and his operation set about determining the legally complicated mechanics of how to redeploy his campaign in service of Mr. Biden’s.

While nondisclosure agreements are standard on political campaigns — helping to protect trade secrets like self-research and internal polling — hush agreements have also been among the issues that dogged Mr. Bloomberg in the Democratic primary race.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who also ended her presidential campaign last week, lashed into Mr. Bloomberg in two Democratic primary debates, criticizing him for comments he had allegedly made about women, and calling on him to release former employees from nondisclosure agreements that they had signed with Bloomberg LP.

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