The Fair Pay Campaign, a lobby for intern rights, is trying to convince the federal government to start paying the estimated 20,000 to 30,000 mostly unpaid interns who work in Washington each summer. It's starting, of course, with the famous White House internship program.Internships were created as a learning experience, but what if you can't afford to learn?
As the White House states on its website under FAQs about the program: "White House Internships are unpaid positions." Not only that: "Any outside income, funding or housing assistance received as a White House intern must be pre-approved by the Office of the White House Counsel." It also specifies that interns work 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Fair Pay's Mikey Franklin says this policy is in conflict with Obama's speech earlier this summer in which he called on Congress to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour. "We don't believe the White House can, in good faith, go after minimum wage and at the same time have unpaid staff," Franklin told CNN.
The Fair Pay Campaign argues that the White House is blocking a huge number of potential applicants whose parents can't pay for them to stay the summer in Washington D.C.
"If you want to break into these industries, you have to work for free," Franklin said. "That's not a reality for a lot of people who aren't upper middle class."
John Sutter at CNN agrees. Unpaid internships are "just one of many ways middle-class and poor Americans are being left behind in the age of income inequality," he says.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Are interns the new underclass?