Biden and AOC demanded a $15/hr minimum wage, but their Climate Corps pays less than $12 per hour

Both Biden and AOC campaigned on a $15/hr minimum wage, but a campus climate action leader job in their government funded program only pays $11 per hour to "develop partnerships between higher education institutions and the community to develop and implement a climate action plan.”
Climate action

President Joe Biden and New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have loudly advocated for a minimum-wage increase and for addressing what they say is a “climate crisis.” Based on wages offered for the positions listed under Biden’s taxpayer-funded American Climate Corp (ACC) program — many of which pay under $12 per hour — when the two goals conflict, climate change is the priority. 

Biden: "More than a paycheck. It's about dignity."

The ACC, according to Biden and Ocasio-Cortez, is modeled on former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Great Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. It aims to put “more than 20,000 young Americans to work fighting the impacts of climate change today while gaining the skills they need to join the growing clean energy and climate-resilience workforce of tomorrow.” 

Ocasio-Cortez has been advocating for the program for years. 

“This is not a pipe dream, and this is not some big progressive vision that is quote-unquote unrealistic,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a press conference in July 2021 announcing the creation of the program. 

At the same time, Biden and Ocasio-Cortez have been advocates for increases in the federal minimum wage. Shortly after taking office, Biden issued an executive order to give federal employees and employees of federal contractors a $15 per hour minimum wage. 

“A job is about more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. When I was running for president, I said it was past time to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour,” Biden said in a statement

When opposition arose over the inclusion of a bill to increase the federal minimum wage in the Democrats’ covid pandemic relief package, Ocasio-Cortez upset that the bill was even being debated. 

"It is utterly embarrassing that 'pay people enough to live' is a stance that’s even up for debate," she posted on X

So far, however, Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t had any objections about positions in the ACC program she helped create paying far less than the $15 per hour minimum wage she believes shouldn’t be up for debate. 

For example, a position in Barnstable, Massachusetts, pays $11.67 per hour. The median household income in Barnstable is $91,438, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s 20% higher than the national median household income of $74,580

In Denver, Colorado, where the median household income sits at $88,213 per year, the ACC lists an “energy and water climate action corpsmember” post that pays $14 per hour. 

In Fairfax, Virginia, where the median household income is $145,164, the ACC advertises a position with the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA program that pays $14.81 per hour. 

Out of 308 listings, 96 paid less than the $15 per hour that Ocasio-Cortez has said is “enough to live.” 

The program’s memorandum of understanding between federal agencies states that ACC members will be paid enough “to ensure that ACC members are provided financial compensation and benefits sufficient to meet their basic needs.” 

Many of these positions list housing as one of the benefits, which might push the wage past the equivalent of $15 per hour in some of the cases. 

The highest paid job currently listed, which is among less than a dozen that pay $20 or more, is for a community energy fellow in Washington, D.C., working for the Department of Energy. The job offers a range of up to $52.88 per hour. 

In March, a White House announcement listed the price tag for the program at $8 billion, but that was for 50,000 workers. By the time Earth Day rolled around on April 22, Biden downgraded his own figures and said the funding would only support 20,000 workers. 

"It doesn’t matter if it’s $7 billion for only seven EV chargers, or less than $15 for a campus climate agitator, Joe Biden’s climate spending never adds up. Someone is getting rich off the billions Biden keeps shoveling into these green schemes and our families are the ones who must pay the bill,” Larry Behrens, communications director for Power The Future, which advocates for energy workers, told Just the News

Emails to a press contact for Ocasio-Cortez for this story received no response. 

Gardening lessons

This taxpayer-funded program promises jobs that are fighting climate change. A job paying $20.58 in San Francisco, California, where the median household income is $136,692, is a garden educator who will teach “eco-literacy” in elementary school gardens. 

The job requires a “commitment to social justice and anti-racism,” according to the listing

Many of the jobs fighting climate change, like a conservation crew position in Richmond, Vermont, provide work doing “trail construction and maintenance,” which will have a “significant impact on habitat, water quality and outdoor recreation.” 

A position in New Orleans, Louisiana, for a supply and logistics coordinator paying $12.35 per hour ensures that “construction sites have the necessary tools and materials on time and accurately through a keen focus on planning and organization.” The position provides no housing benefits. 

An AgCorps organics, apiary, and nursery specialist with the Montana Department of Agriculture, in Helena, Montana, which pays $13.60 per hour, purportedly "fights climate change" by completing various tasks in support of an organics program. 

Another allegedly climate change-fighting job with the Montana Department of Agriculture is for an agricultural literacy specialist. The tasks of the position include “taste tests, educational activities, cooking and gardening lessons.” 

A campus climate action leader position paying $11 per hour develops “partnerships between higher education institutions and the community to develop and implement a climate action plan.” This includes increasing “energy efficiency in underserved households” and providing education on energy-saving behaviors. 

Behrens expressed doubts that the taxpayer dollars funding the program will produce much value. 

“This all just proves that if Joe Biden, the architect of the Solyndra failure, wins another term, he will only continue to build bigger disasters while his climate friends get richer,” Behrens said.

The Solyndra debacle involved a $737m loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy for a project in Nevada. Ron Pelosi -- then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's brother-in-law -- was at the time a board member with a subsidiary of Pacific Corporate Group, an investment partner in Tonopah’s parent company.