Bradley Hires Temporary Workers
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Former Sen. Bill Bradley, who has made universal health care a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, earlier this year hired temporary workers who didn’t receive health benefits.
Bradley’s campaign was the only one among major presidential candidates to list temporary agency workers among campaign expenses through the end of September, a computer analysis of Federal Election Commission records showed.
Most of the campaigns, including Bradley’s, offer health benefits for full-time, paid workers. Vice President Al Gore, Bradley’s rival for the Democratic nomination, has a policy against using temp agencies.
In his campaign, Bradley has proposed providing health insurance to all children and expanding it to needy adults through affordable plans and tax credits. ``When it come to health care, everyone will have the American dream at last,″ he says.
But the five temporary employment agencies his campaign reported paying between January and September said they don’t provide health insurance for short-term workers, such as those hired by Bradley.
Bradley’s campaign said it no longer uses temp workers, and that some of those it did use have become permanent employees.
``If Bill Bradley’s health care plan was already in effect, all of these people would have their choice of coverage and those who needed it would have help paying for them,″ said Bradley spokeswoman Anita Dunn.
Coincidentally, while campaigning in New Hampshire Monday night, Bradley addressed the issue in response to a small-business owner’s gripe about the difficulty of offering insurance.
``Many small businesspeople can’t afford health insurance for their employees and therefore they don’t,″ Bradley said. ``What I’m trying to do is make it easier for your employees to get health insurance.″
Bradley reported paying $35,974 to temporary employee agencies in New Jersey, Illinois and California _ of which $18,584 was spent for short-term temporary workers. The rest was for placement fees when agencies located permanent workers.
Dunn said the short-term workers were hired for data entry and to answer phones when ``we were scrambling to put together a campaign.″ The last payments listed on Bradley’s report were in July.
Bradley paid Guaranteed Staffing Inc. of Cranford, N.J., more than $14,000 in the first nine months of the year to hire fewer than a half-dozen temporary workers. One worker was eventually hired full-time.
Dan Dazzo, an account executive at the firm, said the workers get no health benefits.
``It’s straight pay through us,″ he said. ``If they are there long enough, they’d get holiday pay and eventually vacation pay.″
Mary Zoch, service manager for First Temporary Services in Chicago, said Bradley hired a small number of workers this spring for clerical work. Bradley reported paying the agency $808.
Zoch said her company does not provide health benefits, though workers can buy health coverage through a pool at a reduced rate.
Bradley’s campaign also hired temporary workers from Innovations personnel service in San Francisco and Kelly Services in New Jersey. The firms say they don’t provide health benefits to short-term workers, but workers can purchase insurance on their own.
Campaigns rarely hire temporary help, opting instead for full-time employees who can be screened for handling sensitive information, according to Kenneth Gross, a lawyer for Republican Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.
``When they’re (full-time) employees, you have a little bit more control,″ Gross said.
Gore’s campaign said it offers health insurance to all paid employees and has a policy against using temporary agencies. It has used only one such worker, who was paid about $200.
Spokeswomen for Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain said all employees receive health insurance and their campaigns don’t hire temporary workers.
Republican Gary Bauer’s campaign staff also receives health insurance, though the campaign has hired a few temporary workers to make phone calls.
Publisher Steve Forbes’ campaign doesn’t hire temporary workers and doesn’t provide health insurance. Its employees have access to medical savings accounts, a darling of conservatives, which allow workers to set aside money, tax-free, to pay for routine care.