Slight wage increase, up from “zero”

2010:

With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.
Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.
The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.
“If you’re a for-profit employer or you want to pursue an internship with a for-profit employer, there aren’t going to be many circumstances where you can have an internship and not be paid and still be in compliance with the law,” said Nancy J. Leppink, the acting director of the department’s wage and hour division.

Sounds reasonable, right?

2013:

A Federal District Court judge in Manhattan ruled on Tuesday that Fox Searchlight Pictures had violated federal and New York minimum wage laws by not paying production interns, a case that could upend the long-held practice of the film industry and other businesses that rely heavily on unpaid internships.
In the decision, Judge William H. Pauley III ruled that Fox Searchlight should have paid two interns on the movie “Black Swan,” because they were essentially regular employees.
Judge Pauley rejected the argument made by many companies to adopt a “primary benefit test” to determine whether an intern should be paid, specifically whether “the internship’s benefits to the intern outweigh the benefits to the engaging entity.” Judge Pauley wrote that such a test would be too subjective and unpredictable.
Instead, the judge forcefully called for following criteria that the Department of Labor has laid out for unpaid internships.
Those rules say unpaid internships should not be to the immediate advantage of the employer, the work must be similar to vocational training given in an educational environment, the experience must be for the benefit of the intern and the intern’s work must not displace that of regular employees.
“Undoubtedly Mr. Glatt and Mr. Footman received some benefits from their internships, such as résumé listings, job references and an understanding of how a production office works,” Judge Pauley wrote. “But those benefits were incidental to working in the office like any other employees and were not the result of internships intentionally structured to benefit them.” Judge Pauley added that “Searchlight received the benefits of their unpaid work, which otherwise would have required paid employees.”

I wouldn’t think this would be news to employers, that one has to pay employees, but it seems to be. Can we work any harder at devaluing the work that people do? Is this really the direction we want to go, where we don’t pay people at all?






208 replies
  1. 1
    CorbinDallasMultipass says:

    Can we work any harder at devaluing the work that people do?

    Do we have to pay ourselves?

  2. 2
    Derelict says:

    Not paying employees is the corporate dream.

    Of course, it never occurs to these capitalist geniuses that people who have no money can’t buy their product, but that’s just a minor detail.

  3. 3

    MoU was pimping internships in his column on Sunday, which incidentally was another ad for his daughter’s roommate. What I would like to know is whether he is one of the investors in that company.

  4. 4
    Jay in Oregon says:

    Is this really the direction we want to go, where we don’t pay people at all?

    Sounds like communism to me.

  5. 5
    maya says:

    Here’s your sack. There’s your shanty. And here’s your weekly ration of hog maws. Now get pickin’.

  6. 6
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Jay in Oregon: “They pretend to pay us and we pretend to work.”

  7. 7
    Suffern ACE says:

    I wonder – what’s the longest internship that one of the media companies have been caught handling. I’m imagining some sap working for 10 years before realizing that everyone else in the office has a paycheck.

  8. 8
    TooManyJens says:

    ProPublica is doing a Kickstarter for a project investigating the use and abuse of interns:

    http://www.kickstarter.com/pro.....rn-economy

    They do good work, so I would encourage people who are interested in this subject to support the Kickstarter if you can. They have matching donors who are matching based on number of backers, so even if you can only give $1, it would help.

  9. 9
    Emma says:

    For the life of me, I’ve never been able to understand the concept of unpaid internships. I was offered one right before graduation. Great opportunity, get your foot in the door, blah blah. And I’m thinking, paying rent, paying bills, eating, how does that work?

  10. 10
    JD Rhoades says:

    But..but…if companies have to pay people, that’ll stall the recovery!

  11. 11
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Is this really the direction we want to go, where we don’t pay people at all?

    Oh hell yes…

    Wait until they start asking US to pay THEM for the mere privilege of working for them… for nothing…

    Some sort of overblown ‘Celebrity Intern Bootcamp™’ bollocks…

  12. 12
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Is this really the direction we want to go, where we don’t pay people at all?

    How else are our betters to afford their gold-plated swimming pools?

    Slavery is good business. Our modern world, with slavery largely absent, is a historic aberration. 200 years ago, save for a few religious freaks and freethinkers, nobody would have understood why you’d even ask this question.

  13. 13
    What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us? says:

    Did John Galt need workers? No? Then they must be unnecessary.

  14. 14
    MomSense says:

    Will work for food would be an improvement.

  15. 15
    RSA says:

    “What–and leave show business?”

    One useful effect of cracking down on unpaid internships, as others have written about (probably also here on BJ), is that the work may be opened up to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to work for free.

  16. 16
    JustMe says:

    The people are morally obligated to work. The pay is just a gift bestowed upon us by employers.

  17. 17

    Is this really the direction we want to go, where we don’t pay people at all?

    Yes. That is exactly what the corporations want. If they had their druthers, we’d be back living under a company store model… which, actually considering how diversified some companies are, I’m not convinced that there isn’t a case where an employee isn’t working for one part of a company, buying food from other, paying his mortgage to a third part, and racking up debt on credit cards to a fourth part because the first part isn’t paying him enough to live on.

    S***. I think I just gave myself a bout of depression thinking about that.

  18. 18
    Xenos says:

    In the old days, if you wanted to get a job in the Massachusetts courts, you had to pay the judge one year’s worth of income. Then you were set for life. It made a nice sideline for the judges, but did not lead to the most dynamic group of employees.

  19. 19
    piratedan says:

    @JD Rhoades: they’re busy creating the jobs, you can’t expect them to pay them too….

  20. 20
    sb says:

    There is nothing so sinful to many Americans than someone drawing a salary. Even Americans who draw one think there’s something with it.

  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    MBA slime needs to go to prison for this shit.

  22. 22
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    I think I’m in moderation for a legit comment that looked like one of those ‘W0kr @ h0me” spam comments.

  23. 23
    Mike in NC says:

    NC created the Back-to-Work program to retrain workers in certain new fields, and offered to pay for tuition, textbooks, and other expenses. Naturally the Republicans decided to kill BTW for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1st. The Senate voted against it and it barely passed renewal in the House. If someone asked the governor if he had an opinion, it would probably be along the lines of “Who gives a shit?”.

  24. 24
    Ryan C says:

    @Emma: Won’t mom and dad pay for it all? That’s how things work for our economic elite. They call it “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.”

  25. 25
    GregB says:

    Work makes you free. Free work makes you freer.

  26. 26
    pokeyblow says:

    The other sucky part of unpaid internships is that they’re not a problem for trust-fund kids who start out with better connections (i.e., access to those very internships) in the first place.

    It’s Bugg Romney’s world. We’re just living in it.

  27. 27
    TooManyJens says:

    @Emma:

    Great opportunity, get your foot in the door, blah blah. And I’m thinking, paying rent, paying bills, eating, how does that work?

    It works by ensuring that only kids from families rich enough to pay all those bills for them can have great opportunities and get a foot in the door.

  28. 28
    Emma says:

    @Ryan C: My mom and dad’s bootstraps were mighty short at the time. I know, I know. Also known as “born on third and thinks he hit a triple.”

  29. 29
    Emma says:

    @TooManyJens: Perpetuation of the 1%. It’s a sweet trick we’ve allowed them to play on the rest of us.

  30. 30
    Kay says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    I looked in back and I don’t see it.

    It’s a mystery :)

  31. 31
    piratedan says:

    over at LGF there’s a notification that FEMA turned down the West, Texas folks request for disaster relief becuase it wasn’t caused by nature, instead of it actually being criminal business negligence, Wingnut heads asploding everywhere.

    Although supposedly fema isn’t supposed to differentiate makes me wonder if there’s a lawsuit pending. The source is a WaPo article, so buyer beware

  32. 32
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Kay:

    I tried resubmitting and got a ‘duplicate’ error. Oh, well. Another one ends up in the bit bucket.
    The gist: Minimum wage in Mexico for unskilled persons is 64 pesos/day. That’s about $5. For skilled persons like a chef or welder, around $7 – $8. that’s per DAY not per hour.
    Now you know one reason why wages for US labor are under pressure.

  33. 33
    Hungry Joe says:

    Years ago, at the old San Diego Tribune, we’d get summer interns from J-schools around the country. The pay was lousy but the kids scraped by — hey, they were spending a summer working as reporters-in-training for a real newspaper; it was an adventure and a great learning experience. Later, as the merged Union-Tribune, the paper decided, Hey — let’s not pay them anything! And we still got interns: kids whose parents could afford to support them for a summer in San Diego.

  34. 34
    gelfling545 says:

    You must understand that they are doing you a favor by letting you work in their wonderful self-made operation. Naturally your work contributes nothing to the profitability and success of the enterprise. It is all benevolence on the employer’s part.

  35. 35
    Emma says:

    @piratedan: It looks like they’re still going to help individuals but the town itself will not be getting money.

  36. 36
    piratedan says:

    @Emma: yeah, one of those, you might seek redress with the business that blew up your town kind of things but still helping the individuals and business owners

  37. 37
    ruemara says:

    As I fight for my paltry, keeping me in poverty but at least not homeless government job, I can say an unequivocal yes. Between the desire to outsource key technical parts and find civic minded volunteers to cover the rest, people do not want to pay other people to work. They want it for super cheap pennies and even when they get that, then they want it for free. We are in a very evil, selfish time.

  38. 38
    gbear says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity:

    Wait until they start asking US to pay THEM for the mere privilege of working for them… for nothing…

    That worked out pretty well for Frank Lloyd Wright…

  39. 39
    Mike G says:

    Wanna bet the same corporate tools offering only unpaid internships are the grumps bemoaning the “work ethic of young people today” and how “we need a culture that values work”, with no sense of irony whatsoever.

  40. 40
    raven says:

    Many degree programs require internships in the chosen field. Student teaching is a prime example. I think I shall faint.

  41. 41
    Yatsuno says:

    @Mike G: We get your labour, we get your housing, we get your food, your clothes, everything you own. Then we’ll give you just what we think you need. And you’ll thank us for it.

  42. 42
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Why can’t these interns borrow $25,000 from their parents and start their own business where they exploit interns? Isn’t this still the USA?

  43. 43
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @piratedan:

    Texas deregulation: not looking real great just now. Maybe Rick Perry will step in with some free market solutions for rebuilding the town’s demolished infrastructure.

  44. 44
    piratedan says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: in Texas terms that probably means ending food assitance programs for kindergardners

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RSA:

    One useful effect of cracking down on unpaid internships, as others have written about (probably also here on BJ), is that the work may be opened up to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to work for free.

    Yep. I know that when I was in graduate school, meeting the internship requirement was tough because I also had a part-time job, so I had to juggle school, work, and at least one day a week with no pay for the internship. I knew people in grad school who had worked at production company “internships” for free for over three years in the hope of being hired someday. These were, of course, all people who had indulgent parents (I say “indulgent” because my parents had money, but they weren’t willing to pay my expenses so I could work for free).

    It’s a huge, huge problem in the entertainment industry and, frankly, it leads to the crappy entertainment we have, because you end up with a bunch of young adults running things who have no idea how most people live.

  46. 46
    Yatsuno says:

    @piratedan: Eliminating all public K-12 education and complete withdrawal from Medicaid too. Gotta protect the fee-fees of those poor plant owners dontchaknow.

  47. 47
    Anoniminous says:

    Making peonage illegal is an unwarranted intervention by US courts into the Free Market.

    Friedrich Hayek and Ayn Rand haz a sad.

  48. 48
    scav says:

    @Yatsuno: anyone want water? It’s at the store on Aisle 9. Free Market! Solutions! And if you buy the sparkling stuff, it’s practically a spa experience for proles.

  49. 49
    Emma says:

    @scav: Don’t joke about it. One of the things that scare me stupid is how fast and how far we have gone down the road of making water a commodity.

  50. 50
    catclub says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease:” 200 years ago”

    Didn’t the British outlaw slavery round about 200 years ago?
    Russia was considered highly backward and the Serfs were freed before they did so in the US, yes?

    Now, 260 years ago, I would take that bet.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, I think my particular office at the Giant Evil Corporation had a couple of unpaid interns before I got here, because at the time we were too small to qualify for a corporate intern. Now that we have 25 employees, we can get a real (ie paid) intern through the corporate office, which is very nice for us and also for them. The people we get are usually local, or at least going to a local college, so they have housing, but IIRC the GEC will help them find cheap housing if needed.

  52. 52
    Kyle says:

    @piratedan:

    you might seek redress with the business that blew up your town

    Theoretically you might, but thanks to Texas non-regulation the plant only carried $1m in liability insurance. The people on my cul-de-sac have more than that for our dozen cars, none of which contain hundreds of tons of explosives.

  53. 53
    scav says:

    @Emma: I assure you, my humor level was arid.

  54. 54
    piratedan says:

    @Kyle: but Kyle… freedom! Free market! and stuff!

  55. 55
    catclub says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I keep suggesting, in the laws school scam posts at LGM, that the new lawyers take on each other as clients when suing the laws schools.

  56. 56
    El Cid says:

    I’m sick and tired of all these greedy Americans insisting on being paid for their work. If they were good patriots, they’d work for no more than the glory it brought to the job creators.

  57. 57
    baadmoon says:

    @maya: “You can’t pack cotton and ‘spect to gather corn.” — Brownie McGee

  58. 58
    Kay says:

    @raven:

    But student teaching would qualify under the judge’s test, which is the labor Department’s test:

    Those rules say unpaid internships should not be to the immediate advantage of the employer, the work must be similar to vocational training given in an educational environment, the experience must be for the benefit of the intern and the intern’s work must not displace that of regular employees.

    What doesn’t qualify is just slapping “college credit!” on unpaid work at a for-profit company. He’s not buying that:

    Some employers have asserted that they have free rein not to pay interns as long as the interns are receiving college credit. But Judge Pauley said receiving academic credit was of little importance in determining whether interns should be paid.

    He’s really just insisting they follow the rules. No more than that.

  59. 59
    👽 Martin says:

    @raven:

    Many degree programs require internships in the chosen field. Student teaching is a prime example. I think I shall faint.

    Yeah, that one is going to be tricky. We won’t allow a student to both get paid and get degree credit. It’s mainly because once the company starts paying them, they also stop teaching them. That’s mostly due to companies wanting to give their interns shit work to do, which we’re responding to. This will be interesting to sort out.

  60. 60
    catclub says:

    @Kyle: Just because they only had that much insurance does not mean they have no actual liability, or other means to pay. It sounds like an excellent case for trying out debt peonage, after a huge penalty judgement comes down.

  61. 61
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Obligatory Blazing Saddles reference:

    “When you was slaves, you sang like birds.”

    Altogether now…

  62. 62
    jibeaux says:

    @Mike in NC: Or it might be “I’m terrified to answer that question. Ack, are those schoolchildren? With PETITIONS? Quick, get me out of here!!”

  63. 63
    Kay says:

    @Mike in NC:

    NC created the Back-to-Work program to retrain workers in certain new fields, and offered to pay for tuition, textbooks, and other expenses. Naturally the Republicans decided to kill BTW for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1st.

    Are Moral Mondays getting any coverage? I’m reading about it, but are people there reading about it?

    That is a LOT of arrests, BTW. Imagine for a moment if hundreds of Tea Partiers were getting arrested for demonstrating in North Carolina. Wall to wall national coverage, do ya think?

  64. 64
    sherparick says:

    Besides the class advantage unpaid internships give to are nascent hereditary aristocracy, this is consistent with libertarian ethos adopted by our elite. Mike Konzal discusses the feudalism implicit in libertarianism, including the idea that a man or woman can sell himself into slavery or serfdom, is acknowledged in one of Libertarian core documents not written by Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. http://www.nextnewdeal.net/ror.....-feudalism.

    Also, note the phrase “non-profits” in the article. Schools (at least public and “non-profit” ones) are allowed non-paid internships under the law.

  65. 65
    MomSense says:

    @Kay:

    My friend sent me a video of her arrest on Monday!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1m4Tq-nrLoI

    You can see her clearly at 1:57 as she is being arrested. The look of calm on her face is just beautiful. There are some great videos at the storyofamerica channel.

  66. 66
    Pococurante says:

    My internship changed my life, wholly for the good. That was thirty years ago. I imagine they are even more useful now to get some kind of experience on the resume to break into a job market awash with people of all ages and experience.

    I considered it a form of apprentice training. I didn’t have any money then, but I had plenty of drive. Mistakes that might have gotten a full time employee fired were just learning exercises for me.

    It turns things on their head to say that someone who knowingly takes an non-compensated internship should be able to demand compensation after the fact.

  67. 67
    Todd says:

    My favorite part about Atlas Shrugged was the part about the paradisical working environment of 20th Century Motors under old man Starnes, where one really productive employee used to take on extra shifts so he could occasionally buy a record album.

    In Rand’s worldview, this was a great thing, indicating great pay.

  68. 68
    syphonblue says:

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the Supreme Court is working on reversing this as we speak.

  69. 69
    Kay says:

    @MomSense:

    Thanks.

    It’s good to see Lefty religious out and about for Moral Mondays. They were part of Justice for Janitors here and then they dropped that because labor appropriated it, but they still show up at “defend working people” type events. It’s an interesting pairing, labor people and religious people.

  70. 70
    mclaren says:

    Capitalism, baby! That’s the logical endpoint of laissez faire: slavery.

    The ultimate profit center — get slaves to work for you for nothing. What’s not to like?

    You know what? Even Southern plantation owners had to treat their workers better than American corporations in 2013. At least the Southern plantation owners had to feed and house their slaves. We don’t even bother to require our corporations to do that.

    This country is circling the porcelain bowl, and the suction is drawing it down.

  71. 71
    mclaren says:

    @Pococurante:

    Nice try, sock puppet. How much did Citicorp pay you to spew out that transparent bullshit?

  72. 72
    PurpleGirl says:

    When I was taking the masters in recreation, I did a term-long internship in the pediatrics playroom of Memorial-Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. I was an assistant to the playroom director. I taught crafts, organized a few evening entertainment programs, generally worked with the children coming to the playroom, subbed for the director when she was out, observed how she worked, etc. I was not paid; indeed, I paid NYU for the credits the “course” was worth. I also had to pay for liability insurance through the professional organization (the insurer was Lloyd’s of London).

    It was good experience and had I continued in the masters program, I would have had to do two more internships as required for the degree.

  73. 73
    Itchy Brother says:

    The US was built on slavery and indentured servitude. Internships and student loans are the latest incarnation.

  74. 74
    gene108 says:

    Devil’s advocate here.

    This is the sort of anti-business lawsuits that have chilled the business community’s desire to invest.

    Long standing practices get scrutinized and now everyone loses. The unpaid internship has more value than waiting tables, but if they need to be paid entry level wages the employer will just push more work onto existing employees than incur an additional cost.

    Everyone loses, but the government folks who can feel good about sticking it to business.

  75. 75

    Is this really the direction we want to go, where we don’t pay people at all?

    @Derelict: Au contraire, mon ami.

    When General Electric, Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble can charge employees to work for the company, THAT’S the dream.

  76. 76
    gene108 says:

    @gene108: trouble w/ edit button.

    Look at the uncertainty this causes for employers, they get sued for something that is an industry standard.

    So when is the next shoe going to drop from big government and over what?

    Better to sit on money than invest in a new production if it could get you sued.

  77. 77
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Derelict: No need, get government to pay, how does government pay? Well, not taxes because we don’t tax the ownership class and the poor have no money. No, we make government SELL PUBLIC ASSETS to get income to pay the contracts that go in our pockets.

  78. 78
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mike in NC: I had a state employee in Massachusetts once relate to me bitterly that back in the days of generous welfare they sent one of her cases to college for free, whereas SHE had to pay for everything she’d got. I was so utterly stunned and speechless: apparently it was better that this person in question get a welfare check monthly and continue to be unemployable because then she would know her place, rather than receive an education middle class good for which she was insufficiently grateful?

  79. 79
    Kay says:

    @gene108:

    I just can’t defend unpaid internships at for-profits. Even if they want to offer training, if I give them that, they can’t pay even minimum wage? Really?

    How much did they make on this movie?

  80. 80
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Another Halocene Human: And ditto for school in prison. Without prison schools and alternative prisons in the Massachusetts correctional system in the 1950s Malcolm X wouldn’t have been Malcolm X, he would have gotten out and been a repeat offender, but never mind the cost to society, THOSE PEOPLE don’t DESERVE a free education.

    It’s like authoritarian parenting writ large. YOU DISGUST ME AND YOU’RE GROUNDED. YOU’RE GROUNDED FOREVER AND NO DINNER, TOO. DON’T LOOK AWAY WHILE I’M TALKING TO YOU SONNY!

  81. 81
    daverave says:

    @gbear:

    Yeah, the architecture bizness was (is?) notorious for hiring idealistic young interns to work for free just so they could put some starchitect’s name on their resume. And the work, back in the day, was crap, like running the toxic print machines or filing stuff… nothing that had much to do with architecture.

    My first intern-like gig was paid fortunately: $100 for a 40 hour week at a Park Avenue, NYC firm, commuting in from NJ. I think i cleared $68 after taxes and commuting costs. The good thing was that it put me off the idea of commuting for the rest of my life. Since then, I’ve always made sure that I’ve worked within biking distance of my employer. Now I work for myself out of a studio I built in my backyard :-)

  82. 82
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @ruemara:
    Between the desire to outsource key technical parts and find civic minded volunteers to cover the rest, people do not want to pay other people to work.

    The Amanda Palmerfication stage of capitalism.

  83. 83
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Kay: How much did they make on this movie?

    Hahahaha, how naive, you know they get states and cities to pay them to film there now, right?

  84. 84
    Itchy Brother says:

    @gene108:

    You lost me. How does everyone loose when we stick it to unethical businesses?

  85. 85
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Another Halocene Human: For the exposure. For example, large parts of New Orleans were cordoned off when I visited and I found out this is a yearly occurrence now. Not sure NOLA was really highlighted in any of these films but TPTB seemed quite convinced it was all good for tourism and even a stimulus (the latter claim is a TOTAL joke given the tax breaks and expense in terms of police presence and mitigation).

  86. 86
    Pococurante says:

    @Kay: Like some of the others above, mine was tied to my college program. I certainly would have liked to receive minimum wage – instead I cooked BBQ at the local chain restaurant and tried to keep my grade up (not successfully but then I got hired before many of my friends who didn’t work through school).

    Working for free was cheaper than paying a Devry or other vocational school that would have paired me with potential employers.

    Unpaid internships that don’t teach relevant skills? Ok, but then isn’t that up to the judgement of the person involved?

    I’d be fully supportive of the OP if they’d been promised relevant skills or pay but in fact received neither. This isn’t the same situation as when someone is trapped by their benefits package, etc. One has all the mobility they could want.

  87. 87
    kathleen says:

    Of course many companies would like to not pay any workers at all. Further, they would like employees who lived in barracks next door, so they were always available, and they would be happy to feed them barbequed remains of the workers who died at their posts (after cashing in the dead peasant life insurance on said workers) if they thought they could get away with it.
    Their only duty is to their shareholders, doncha know.

  88. 88
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Yatsuno: We get your labour, we get your housing, we get your food, your clothes, everything you own. Then we’ll give you just what we think you need. And you’ll thank us for it.

    Isn’t that, er, c*mm*n*sm? Especially as practiced and not fantastically envisioned?

  89. 89
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Why can’t these interns borrow $25,000 from their parents and start their own business where they exploit interns? Isn’t this still the USA?

    Rich = Party members (& their snotty offspring)
    Middle class = kulaks

    Look out, kulaks.

  90. 90
    Poopyman says:

    I’m surprised nobody Godwined this with Arbeit Macht Frei yet. Y’all are slipping.

  91. 91
    SatanicPanic says:

    @sherparick: That was a great read, thanks!

  92. 92
    victoid says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity:
    This is a time honored capitalist profit strategy. For many years I played with rock bands in clubs where the pay of $300-$800 per gig provided a modest living. As long as the band had a following, this worked to the advantage of club owner and musicians. At some point in the late ’80’s, things changed almost overnight. As if in collusion, club owners across the country realized that the band’s following would show up, pay a cover and drink whether the band was paid or not. The default scheme then became: “We will pay you X% of admission receipts after Y number of covers.” You will first need to pay for rental of our sound system and a fee to our tech crew. But you can each have a few beers on us. Our net pay fell from about $500 per night to about $50.
    The quality of musicianship plummeted as every local teen garage band brought everyone they knew to their gigs. We, and hundreds like us were driven from the biz into “real work”. Nice business plan, huh?

  93. 93
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: Yep. I know that when I was in graduate school, meeting the internship requirement was tough because I also had a part-time job, so I had to juggle school, work, and at least one day a week with no pay for the internship.

    Want to feel great about the world? It’s the same in the world of teachers for children with special needs.

    I have a brother with severe autism. His aides kept burning out. My brother is a handful and these poor young people were with him all day at school, taking classes AND working their real job at nights to pay the rent AND the school bills.

    SHOW YOU WHAT SOCIETY VALUES. No wonder so many parents find out that the school has “fixed” their EAP so their child is not REALLY disabled and their kid gets expelled instead of getting a special lesson plan.

    Oh, and those charter school creeps are not going to take care of these kids. That’s where all the “rising expenses of failing schools” go, also administrator salaries because they have to compete with the private sector, we can’t have, say, veteran teachers be admins, that would make too much damn sense.

  94. 94
    Kay says:

    @Pococurante:

    I don’t think it’s comparable to what it was decades ago, which is why states cracked down first. It’s mushroomed to the point where it’s simply being used as free labor:

    In 2008, the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 50 percent of graduating students had held internships, up from the 17 percent shown in a 1992 study by Northwestern University. This means hundreds of thousands of students hold internships each year; some experts estimate that one-fourth to one-half are unpaid.
    In California, officials have issued guidance letters advising employers whether they are breaking the law, while Oregon regulators have unearthed numerous abuses.
    “We’ve had cases where unpaid interns really were displacing workers and where they weren’t being supervised in an educational capacity,” said Bob Estabrook, spokesman for Oregon’s labor department. His department recently handled complaints involving two individuals at a solar panel company who received $3,350 in back pay after claiming that they were wrongly treated as unpaid interns.
    Many students said they had held internships that involved noneducational menial work. To be sure, many internships involve some unskilled work, but when the jobs are mostly drudgery, regulators say, it is clearly illegal not to pay interns.
    One Ivy League student said she spent an unpaid three-month internship at a magazine packaging and shipping 20 or 40 apparel samples a day back to fashion houses that had provided them for photo shoots.

    They’re using it to get around paying people.

  95. 95
    karen says:

    Apparently you haven’t heard of Amazon Mechanical Turk where people do grunt work online, like transcribing for literally pennies.

  96. 96
    SatanicPanic says:

    @mclaren: Southern plantations owners- not so bad? Ahem, let me know when McDonald’s starts whipping its workers.

  97. 97
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: I have been at your company’s Eastern Division client-centered experience hellholes and the “interns” all seemed abused and confused. They were basically doing minimum wage scutwork and I think being paid, oh, minimum wage. Wasn’t clear what they were gaining from the experience. The employees with seniority all seemed very happy and those I talked to said they were paid well, too.

    Sort of a flashback to the days when Flagler’s hotels had a rule about no Florida natives on the premises (white, black, or Calusa), if you’re an intern from a local college you’re only fit for no-skill jobs here and don’t get ideas.

    I’ve lived on this side of the Mason Dixon line long enough to feel like those people were MY people and it put a damper on my happyfunjoyclient-centered entertainment experience experience, IYKWIM(AITYD).

  98. 98
    Pococurante says:

    @Kay: It was true then too – I and my fellow interns were replacing software engineers who had been paid very well (in mid 1980s dollars) for their work. Basically the kind of employee I am now…

    But if that weren’t the case then it would have been one of those internships we read about from others where they did little more than gopher. I was already “gophering” at my minimum wage restaurant job.

    I’m definitely not suggesting all internships are equal. There are definitely abuses, and recently we’ve heard some very egregious cases involving foreign students brought to the US and treated poorly.

    Just cautioning that unpaid internships are not automatically bad. Like anything else, a person’s individual judgement comes into play,

    @gene108:

    I’ve done an unpaid internship for a non-profit. From what I’ve seen from my experience and from people who worked as interns (paid and unpaid) or co-ops in college, it is the individual who benefits more than the business. The business is training someone, who could potentially contribute in the future…

    That was my personal experience as well.

  99. 99
    gene108 says:

    @Kay:

    I just can’t defend unpaid internships at for-profits. Even if they want to offer training, if I give them that, they can’t pay even minimum wage? Really?

    I think this going after an industry with a long established history of unpaid internships is a bad case to set an example. If there’s an industry that went from hiring paid co-ops / interns/entry level workers-trainees to unpaid interns in large numbers it’d make more sense.

    Busting a businesses chops for doing what they’ve always done just reinforces the anti-business aura around the Obama administration and the Democratic Party, which is going to be a problem in future national elections.

    @Itchy Brother:

    You lost me. How does everyone loose when we stick it to unethical businesses?

    Why is it unethical? It’s an industry standard. Unpaid internships in the entertainment industry have probably been around before either of us were born.

    Now big government is saying the entertainment industry has to revamp it’s intern program, when no one – for decades and decades and decades – has been bothered about unpaid production assistant interns.

    So, if I’m going to make a movie or T.V. show, do I bother with bringing in unpaid interns and give them a chance to get their proverbial foot in the door, which might get me sued or do I just pile a bit more grunt work on the existing employees or just skip whatever minor contribution they would have made.

    I’ve done an unpaid internship for a non-profit. From what I’ve seen from my experience and from people who worked as interns (paid and unpaid) or co-ops in college, it is the individual who benefits more than the business. The business is training someone, who could potentially contribute in the future, but if IBM, Fox Searchlight, Google, etc. don’t have interns, their business isn’t going to come to a grinding halt.

  100. 100
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Kyle: Too bad the town didn’t take out liability insurance on itself for potential bad decisions that blow up (ooo, too soon?).

    No, seriously, $1mill is so small. Even a small transit agency will carry $10mill. Actually, the town might have some sort of insurance policy. Might as well drain it then let their bond rating go to shit in a few years, not like they’d have income to pay off fuckin’ bonds anyway.

    They want a free lunch for looking the other way, you know what fuck them and the laissez faire horse they rode in on. They can get in line with the rest of the people suing the fertilizer co. On the upside if they spend every liquid asset they have now and find a way to legally tie up public assets with poison pills for privatizers when the citizens sue THEM they won’t have jackshit to turn over.

  101. 101
    Kay says:

    @Pococurante:

    Honestly, I think it’s part of a larger problem. I talk to younger people here who are told to get such specific training for a particular employer that they’re basically being asked to cover the employer’s training costs. Employers used to train people here while paying them. That was part of the deal. They had to take a certain amount of risk that the relationship wouldn’t be 100% to their advantage. The employee is also taking a risk, though.

    I think this “relationship” is all out of whack, and I think part of the reason that’s happened is people have been told that their work has very little value, no matter what the work is. We have two employees. I gotta tell you, it isn’t all unimaginable burden and downside for me. They make us money. That’s why we pay them. They contribute to this little enterprise :)

  102. 102
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @El Cid: I’m sick and tired of all these greedy Americans insisting on being paid disgusting capitalist lucre for their work. If they were good patriots, they’d work for no more than the glory it brought to the job creators secular materialist state which nurtures them and sustains them.

  103. 103
    scav says:

    @gene108: Industry Standards certainly trump ethical considerations. Slavery was the industry standard for cotton, indigo and sugar in certain locales. Look at the trouble we got into after interfering there.

    (What’s the Poe’s law equivalent of invoking the CSA?)

  104. 104
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    I have been at your company’s Eastern Division client-centered experience hellholes and the “interns” all seemed abused and confused. They were basically doing minimum wage scutwork and I think being paid, oh, minimum wage. Wasn’t clear what they were gaining from the experience.

    I’ve heard good things and bad things about that program — my husband’s cousin went through it and absolutely loved it, plus it led to more jobs within the GEC.

    Make sure you’re not confusing the interns with, say, the ride operators — two completely different things. The interns are more likely to working at the hotels or behind the scenes, not inside the park.

  105. 105
    catclub says:

    @gene108: “Why is it unethical? It’s an industry standard.”

    Do we know that all industry standards are ethical? I did not know that.

  106. 106
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Pococurante: It turns things on their head to say that someone who knowingly takes an non-compensated internship should be able to demand compensation after the fact.

    Bullshit, the company lied when they promised an internship and actually made it unpaid scutwork that replaced paid employees.

    I did an actual internship (apprenticeship) and I had a mentor at the company and also was encouraged to work with every department to learn about what they do. I did my share of scutwork, that is to say paperwork in this case, but it was only in the process of learning the nuts and bolts of the business. I NEVER replaced an operations employee.

  107. 107
    Kay says:

    @Pococurante:

    We hired a person who works here right out of high school. We had to train her to do this job. I just couldn’t imagine saying “Savannah, would you work 3 months free and then we’ll think about maybe hiring you?” I mean, I knew there was a certain amount of risk there, that she wouldn’t work out or we’d have to fire her, but I don’t think I can set this up where I have ZERO risk and she has 100%

    It just seems more and more tipped towards the employer.

  108. 108
    gelfling545 says:

    @Kay: Student teaching is rarely to the benefit of the employer. It is difficult and time consuming for the supervising teacher and puts the school at risk at the grade level that those precious standardized test scores may be lower because the class spent nearly a semester under an inexperienced teacher whose contact with the reality of the classroom may before the experience, have been really limited. The teachers who agreed to take student teachers run about frantically at the end of the session trying to supplement what may have been missed during the student teacher’s instruction. College personnel who supervise student teachers spend a lot of time on the phone begging teachers to accept a student teacher. Most schools and teachers who accept student teachers see it as a duty, not a benefit.

  109. 109
    catclub says:

    @Mnemosyne: “I have been at your company’s Eastern Division client-centered experience hellholes”

    Somehow this sounded like the experience of an intern in the German Army, allowed to work in the Soviet Union, during winter break.

  110. 110
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Kay: We’re talking about African Americans here so it’s a tighter mesh. Many of my coworkers are part-time pastors as well. Poverty issues and working family issues are bread and butter to most of these churches (excluding the crazies, of course).

    The Catholic Church and organized labor have a much more topsy turvy relationship. I mean, there’s Catholic Worker and the Franciscans, but there’s also a legacy of parish priests siding with cops against strikers, or the recent actions of bishops to censure the Nuns on the Bus for wasting their energy on social justice and not nagging peeps about abortion.

  111. 111
    MattR says:

    @gene108:

    Why is it unethical? It’s an industry standard.

    Maybe not unethical (though I would also not assume that something being an industry standard makes it ethical – see yesterday’s Daily Show bit about agricultural animal abuse). But in at least some cases it is illegal. Or at least one judge thought so, which is why it is in the news today.

  112. 112
    gene108 says:

    @scav:

    So me voluntarily working for free to advance my career is the same as involuntary servitude?

    The closest comparison would be the master craftsman-apprentice relationship, where the apprentice paid the craftsman to apprentice under him.

    Though unpaid internships have the advantage of the intern being able to quit and change careers with few in modern society really caring why an 18-22 y.o. changed his mind.

  113. 113
    scav says:

    @gene108: The point wasn’t the exact equivalence of labor relationships, but your equation of industry standard with ethical. But I’m sure you know that.

  114. 114
    astrodem says:

    Unpaid internships are on the whole a bad idea. But here’s a different perspective on the issue if you’re willing to listen.

    A lot of small business start-ups would like to be able to hire employees and pay interns, but would never be able to get off the ground in the first place without being able to hire unpaid help. Not paying interns is clearly an abusive practice if you can afford to pay them. But what about start-ups that genuinely can’t afford to pay?

    If those positions don’t offer valuable skills, experiences, and training — interns won’t apply for them. And if the employer treats an unpaid intern badly — the intern will quit.

    It seems to me like there ought to be an exception in the law for small start-ups contingent on low company revenues, at least for their first year or two of doing business.

  115. 115
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gene108:

    Unpaid internships in the entertainment industry have probably been around before either of us were born.

    Not at all — unpaid internships really only came along in the 1970s and 1980s. Until then, the studios had staffs who could do almost anything in-house.

    The word you’re searching for that they had before the 1970s and 1980s is “nepotism,” which is the other thing that’s rampant in Hollywood.

  116. 116
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Pococurante: You sound like a scab, “i got it handled, I can do it myself”. Perhaps not realizing that you benefitted from that, oh, existing federal law that set requirements for internships that just maybe your employer didn’t want to test.

    But other employers did push the limits, after all Bush admin was shit on labor issues, pushed the limits and here we are in the courts.

    Of course, if you were in the plaintiff’s shoes, THAT would have been DIFFERENT, no shame in your game about suing like crazy.

    The eternal sunshine of the unspotted by facts or remembering things from more than five years ago mind.

  117. 117
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @scav: Forget the CSA. Think tomatoes, Florida, 1990s.

  118. 118
    Mnemosyne says:

    @astrodem:

    Not paying interns is clearly an abusive practice if you can afford to pay them. But what about start-ups that genuinely can’t afford to pay?

    Hey, maybe we can tell start-ups that they don’t have to pay their regular employees, either, for the first few years. I’m sure nothing could go wrong with that.

    Sometimes start-ups fail. It sucks for them, but we shouldn’t give them a special exemption to hire free labor because of it.

  119. 119
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: I was, erm, at the hotel. Someone else was paying for it.

    Their little ID tags identified them as interns.

  120. 120
    Pococurante says:

    @Another Halocene Human: Were they promised pay? Were they promised specific benefits they didn’t receive? Was the specific intern program lacking precedence for standard industry practice?

    I genuinely don’t know. If any of those are answered by “yes” then I could agree with the judge’s reasoning.

    @Another Halocene Human: Well, we weren’t busting unions and that’s typically what “scab” means.

    But we were definitely climbing up the tailpipes of older workers. Now that I’m an older worker, in IT yet, I see younger me’s in my rearview mirror. IT is a very tough area for people unwilling to completely relearn their trade every half decade or so.

  121. 121
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gelfling545: Okay, all of that is fair, but what about student teachers, ie aides, for students with special needs? That is the job, it’s not some sort of supervised deal, unless you think the classroom teacher who does NOT have a master’s in special needs education is the supervisor/instructor!?

    Also, while in the class all the time with the primary instructor, I remember the student teachers as being quite good and competent, but not all school systems are the same, I suppose. I’m sure it was extra work.

  122. 122
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gene108: The closest comparison would be the master craftsman-apprentice relationship, where the apprentice paid the craftsman to apprentice under him.

    Not really, that’s more like modern trade school. Except it was back then there were no unions and master craftsmen were dicks. Maybe like “residency” at hospitals? Anyway, some apprentices would indeed wash out but you moved up steps, eventually you did get paid once you had been adequately trained in a useful moneymaking skill and eventually you would be able to set up in business yourself, buy a townhouse, get married, and abuse your OWN set of apprentices.

    Master craftsmen did not bring in apprentices to replace low wage assistants. They brought in apprentices to perpetuate the craft and eventually replace them as they retired.

  123. 123
    gene108 says:

    @catclub:

    Yes.

    Many industry standard practices are in fact not unethical.

    @MattR:

    Like I posted before, I think this is the wrong industry to go after.

    There is serious animosity towards Democrats in the business community. Obama prevailed in2012, post-CU, because he is a fundraising juggernaut and ran two of the tightest Presidential campaigns in recent history.

    Unless we expect another Democrat to excite people to the point they will donate a billion dollars for his campaign, like Obama did, I think keeping business neutral in 2016 will be important for Democrats to win.

    I think these sort of lawsuits just piss off/scare businesses.

    It’s one thing to demand better working conditions for meat packers or find an industry that just started using unpaid interns in large numbers, but it’s a different thing to go after a long standing industry practice no one really objected to.

  124. 124
    MattR says:

    @Pococurante:

    Were they promised pay?

    I don’t really see the relevance of this. Under that standard, a company could hire workers at less than minimum wage and claim that since the workers accepted that illegal, lower salary the company should not have to reimburse them for the actual wages they were legally entitled to.

  125. 125
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Pococurante: You seem blissfully ignorant that there is an existing federal law which defines the terms under which a private for profit company can offer an unpaid internship. And that anyone accepting such internship would expect that this law would be complied with (plus their school and the company are glibly lying to them about the purpose, advantage, outcome, and conditions of this “internship”).

    Stop it.

  126. 126
    scav says:

    @astrodem: Giving interns even small claims akins to shares in future success might work — they’d be taking the same risk as other founding members of start-ups that sometimes also aren’t taking home pay. But the Too Small To Enforce Labor Regulations tactic seems fraught. Lots of risk shunted down to small contractors in Just in Time relationships sptings to mind. Unpaid internships just subcontracted out to small start-ups designed to fail and be reborn.

  127. 127
    Kay says:

    @astrodem:

    It seems to me like there ought to be an exception in the law for small start-ups contingent on low company revenues, at least for their first year or two of doing business.

    Well, offer them something. It doesn’t have to be cash money. Offer them some future interest in the business of comparable value to minimum wage (at least). You’re benefitting. Take some downside risk here. Maybe it will pan out for them, maybe not, but at least it’s not 100% skewed to one side. I’m really just asking that there be some consideration of the employees investment. Surely their time is worth something like money?

  128. 128
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @astrodem: A lot of small business start-ups would like to be able to hire employees and pay interns, but would never be able to get off the ground in the first place without being able to hire unpaid help. Not paying interns is clearly an abusive practice if you can afford to pay them. But what about start-ups that genuinely can’t afford to pay?

    That’s why government must set and enforce laws industrywide. This means the people have to keep up pressure on big companies that would subvert our laws.

    Big companies can always underbid, cheat, and run a loss for a short term advantage. But if everyone must pay the cost of their externalities it actually improves the playing field for small business. Walmart’s reliance on Medicaid and so on is part of what allows them to destroy smaller retail outlets (also their monopoly power to turn the screws on suppliers).

    Just look at the US versus Europe in terms of the restaurant business. The US basically subsidizes sit down franchises in a myriad of ways. Sit down franchises don’t really exist much in Europe. That layer of middleman profit would simply be impossible without shitty labor laws and so on.

  129. 129
    gene108 says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    I think most businesses offer internships because they need to train the next generation of workers. For an employee it takes time to train and assign work to others.

    There is nothing interns do that, if not done, will mean anything to a business.

  130. 130
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gene108: It’s one thing to demand better working conditions for meat packers or find an industry that just started using unpaid interns in large numbers, but it’s a different thing to go after a long standing industry practice no one really objected to.

    No one … except the workers who sued.

    Also, I thought I read that it was state governments, not the Obama admin, driving this process. I also thought Obama sekritly calling up federal judges and telling them to rule a certain way was some sort of gross violation of US law or whatever, but keep up the good fight. I’m sure somebody’s listening. Mark Penn or maybe Dick Morris.

  131. 131
    scav says:

    Speaking of which, it seems to be World Day Against Child Labor
    “Some 10.5 million children are believed to be working as domestic labourers worldwide, according to a new report.”

    But hey, industry standards. Pope should just lighten up.

  132. 132
    astrodem says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Well, I respectfully disagree. A start-up business owner doesn’t get paid for the work they have to do to start their business. If a volunteer or a student is willing and eager to do the work to help a start-up get off the ground for free (which BTW, looks FANTASTIC on a resume), I don’t think our laws should keep start-up owners from accepting their help — especially since they are often in no position to pay.

    Small businesses are the engine of job growth and economic growth. I believe we should be stacking the odds in favor of their success — so that they are in a position to build their business and hire paid employees in the future.

  133. 133
    Pococurante says:

    @MattR: How is it not relevant? Unpaid internships are very real, everyone knows the terms going in.

    That’s why I’m honestly asking, were they promised pay. Did they agree to a paying job and then not get paid. Sounds relevant.

    @Another Halocene Human: Blissful ignorance… well ok, I asked three basic questions. In fact the same questions the law covers. I asked them because I don’t know the facts of this case.

    I don’t know how the defendant’s lawyer answered them. I do see the judge call out those criteria but I don’t see where they were defined up front before these people accepted the internship.

    I suppose you want a polemic asserting all unpaid internships are bad. You’re not going to get that from me.

  134. 134
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gene108: Could you explain that last sentence? I don’t know how you want me to read it.

    The whole deal with the law is that if the internship is educational/training then it’s allowable to be unpaid and the person gets college credit, recognizing that the company is spending money on this and not really getting “work” out of it.

    THE WHOLE LAWSUIT IS THAT A COMPANY TOOK ON “INTERNS” TO DO THE WORK OF PAID EMPLOYEES FOR NO PAY AND IT WAS NOT EDUCATIONAL. Ie, like laying off union workers and busing in scabs. SAME THING.

  135. 135
    astrodem says:

    @Kay:

    Putting “I helped start a business” on your resume looks fantastic. Being able to talk about that in an interview sounds fantastic. The skills and other benefits acquired by the intern will vary from business to business. It’s not like this is a one-sided arrangement.

  136. 136
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Also, note that Pococurante describes in this thread participating in some sort of wage arbitrage deal for his employer and, rather than bemoaning the driving down of wages in his field, is fucking proud of it and sets about rationalizing it.

    I guess white collar professionals are smarter than blue collar workers. Blue collar workers call it two tier wages and many more profane things, while white collar workers will write Brooksian essays with Burkean modesty about the cycle of life and working smarter not harder and the information economy and will basically Old Economy Steve you into a coma until you give up.

    Wait a couple years until he too is replaced and he comes to the comments here crying about the bills he now struggles to pay. I await with popcorn aplenty the sarcastic rants about how companies don’t value knowledge workers any more and how he hopes the C-suite enjoys blowing money and time on botched outsourcing to India, etcet.

  137. 137
    astrodem says:

    @Kay:

    One other thing. Under current law, holding out ANY possibility of financial compensation for an intern in a for-profit business makes that unpaid internship illegal.

  138. 138
    scav says:

    @astrodem: Well, for that matter, putting “I was a CEO of a fortune 500 company.” looks pretty good on a resume too.

  139. 139
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @astrodem: Paying bills is for the little people. We don’t need those kinds of people in business anyway. Makes it harder for Chad and Sahara to get their foot in the door, anyway.

  140. 140
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Sooooo, apparently a bunch of people on this thread were asleep when businesses started displacing long time workers with unpaid “interns” during the 8 years of the Bush admin with the winking approval of his “pro-Bidnis” Labor Department.

    And now it’s “the way it’s always been”.

    At least it’s not the SAME posters who are flaming out over Snowden. (Obama’s worse than Bush! Obama=Bush=H1tler) I think my head would explode.

    eta: fix’d

  141. 141
    TooManyJens says:

    The budget for Black Swan was $13 million and they couldn’t pay two goddamn interns?

  142. 142
    Pococurante says:

    @astrodem: I agree SBO’s shouldn’t be held to a different standard than large companies.

    But speaking personally as a guy who has been in a number of start ups, there is no way in hell I’d use unskilled workers even if I was offered compensation by the government.

    Training up unskilled workers, as others have said above, is a drain on the full time employees. Those of us who do it, like myself, do it out of a sense of mentorship. (*)

    Again per my first post, an internship completely changed my life for the better, At that age I wanted a leg up more than anything. I remember how it felt and I have kids who I hope will be helped as well.

    (*) To head off what I know will be more stupidiocy from folks are feeling contentious today: I am a member of a team for my company that works with local universities’ co-op programs. The young people are paid, very well actually, and they come in with clear expectations. Many of them screwup, some of them quite badly, and it is better they have this experience before their “real” career starts. We have stood up a call center just off the grounds of a major university and are part of their program.

  143. 143
    karen says:

    How about work study? While you’re in college you’re not being paid money but it’s part of your financial aid package.

    And when I was going to college in the mid eighties, my friends who had the same Broadcasting major as I did all had internships at radio stations and tv stations that offered networking opportunities. Yes they did the scut work but a lot of them got regular jobs when they graduated.

  144. 144
    ruemara says:

    @karen: I’ve done that sometimes to have some extra money for christmas or birthdays, but I burned out at all the penny work. Also, look at sites like LogoMyWay, where you compete with hundreds for design work, do the work up front and still may not get the contract. Then there’s eLance, where design companies (often in America) put up design work, and you can often fail to get paid for half the time you spent on it and that’s if you beat out the Phillipino, Pakistani, Arab Emirati, Indian companies that can underbid you to the tune of $8-12 per hour for website design or print work. I’ve been on all of them, to look for a way to get some extra work I could do around my variable schedule. It turned out to be horrible, because you need a lot of time to sift through the jobs, apply, maintain client contact, do the work, chase the pay and wind up earning more than $1 per hour for your actual time.

  145. 145
    MattR says:

    @astrodem:

    A start-up business owner doesn’t get paid for the work they have to do to start their business.

    They own the business so they directly benefit from it doing well. That is very different from what those volunteers or students get out of it (which is why Kay’s suggestion makes sense)

    @Pococurante: Let’s assume that they were told the internship was unpaid and that they were accurately told the details of their responsibilities while an intern. How does that change the fact that the offer was illegal in the first place? Why should the company be allowed to take advantage of the prospective interns’ ignorance about complex labor law? If a company tells you that they don’t have to pay you minimum wage (EDIT: because they claim there is an exemption for the job being offered) and you accept that offer, shouldn’t you be able to sue if you discover that they were lying to you about the law?

  146. 146
    Pococurante says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Also, note that Pococurante describes in this thread participating in some sort of wage arbitrage deal for his employer and, rather than bemoaning the driving down of wages in his field, is fucking proud of it and sets about rationalizing it.

    You really are being a fucking moron today.

    Whether I took advantage of a life changing opportunity or not doesn’t change the reality of what was happening in the 1980s.

    Or is your brain truly so backed up with shit that you think I wouldn’t have preferred a paying co-op position, like the ones I work with now, instead of working two jobs and going to college.

  147. 147
    astrodem says:

    @scav:

    You make a good point about the potential for abuse, but that’s something that can be dealt with through the regulatory process. I wasn’t suggesting that a start-up should be able to hire legions of unpaid interns. When I brought up the idea, I was thinking one or two. At most three. And keep in mind, the start-up owner still has to find a volunteer in the first place. I’m not an economist, but it seems like the market would naturally constrain the number of people willing to work for free.

    The reality is that right now, start-ups either just break the law or take advantage of the unpaid labor of family members in ways that genuinely are abusive. What I’m suggesting is that we make it legal in some narrow and limited way, in order to bring it out into the open and tightly regulate it.

  148. 148
    Pococurante says:

    @MattR: Again, I was asking questions because I didn’t know the answers. I gather from the article the law has changed recently, and the journalist makes a point to note these cases began coming forward in the past few years. In short, now I know the answers.

    Thanks Kay/MattR.

    This February, an unpaid intern sued Elite Model Management, seeking $50 million.

    Ah.

  149. 149
    Jebediah says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The word you’re searching for that they had before the 1970s and 1980s is “nepotism,” which is the other thing that’s rampant in Hollywood.

    Nepotism? In Hollywood? Having seen the trailer for After (b)Earth, I must say I just don’t know what you mean…

  150. 150
    Roy G. says:

    So, if interns don’t contribute anything of value, business are doing it out of the goodness of their corporate hearts, or to help out somebody else in the future? That doesn’t pass the smell test for one second.

    Bonus observation: the gray people and corporations fighting against this want to be known as the ‘job creators’ in our society.

    Can’t afford to pay your workers? Roll up your white collar shirtsleeves and learn how to work the coffee machine yourself, Lumbergh.

  151. 151
    JoyfulA says:

    This reminds me of the article I read today about Nevada rewriting legislation about prison labor since it’s come out how many actual paid workers they’ve replaced and how many companies have lost contracts because they can’t meet the costs of those paying sum-minimum-wage prisoners, which also get free supervisors paid by the state and often free space and equipment.

  152. 152
    Kay says:

    @Pococurante:

    Training up unskilled workers, as others have said above, is a drain on the full time employees. Those of us who do it, like myself, do it out of a sense of mentorship. (*)

    But is it all a sense of mentorship, or does it benefit you if you get a great employee who is absolutely custom-fit for your place, because you trained them?

    I completely agree that training employees is difficult, takes time from other employees, does not pay off immediately, but it also makes trained employees, right? I guess I just disagree that it is wholly charitable. Do you need skilled workers, or not? Where are they supposed to get these “skills”? At some other company who made the investment in training them?

    Someone has to pay for this. It’s not “free”. It’s either you, another employer, or the employee. If the answer is ‘the employee will pay” then we should at least be honest with them about that.

  153. 153
    MattR says:

    @Pococurante: Gotcha. Wasn’t sure if you thought it mattered or if you were just trying to learn all the details. Sorry I didn’t actually help with the latter. If I had to guess, I would say the law has not changed at all but that the line has shifted over time as companies pushed the limits of what was acceptable and neither the Department of Labor nor anyone else ever pushed back. (kinda like the IRS’s re-interpretation of exclusively to mean primarily, the language of the law did not change yet the range of acceptable activities increased)

  154. 154
    astrodem says:

    @scav:

    If a Fortune 500 company is dumb enough to hire an 20 year old unpaid college student to run their business, they probably deserve exactly what’s coming to them. Remember back during the dot-com boom when Gex-X-aged college grads were being turned into overnight CEOs?

  155. 155
    scav says:

    @astrodem: Having worked a bit for my Dad’s startup (entirely non exploitive, if occasionally very very dull) I’m familiar with some of the basic issues from the other side. But if we’re reworking the regulatory structure, we could do something about the laws you mention in 137. I’m not trusting the free market to limit things. In a period of perceived economic crisis, people are desperate enough to do all sorts of things in the hopes of future benefit — solution? Maintain a constant state of economic fear. Rather akin to the constant state of fear of crime and terrorism allows certain elements of govt and industry to get away with all sorts of things.

  156. 156
    astrodem says:

    @MattR:

    Again, under current law, offering any compensation whatsoever automatically brings the internship under FLSA jurisdiction — meaning you have to pay minimum wage. Your suggestion is a reasonable one, but it would render the internship illegal. Unless you think we should change that part of the law too?

  157. 157
    gene108 says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    Pretty much what you said in the second sentence is what I meant. A lot of internships are provided by companies because companies need to train / evaluate the next generation of workers.

  158. 158
    scav says:

    @astrodem: Silly. It was an argument that CEO pay could come down for the same reasons. Not that certain companies might not be better run by teenybops, of course.

  159. 159
    astrodem says:

    I’m trying to engage in a good faith conversation here. So that everybody can see what the current DoL regs are regarding unpaid internships at for-profit businesses, see here.

    Excerpt:

    The Test For Unpaid Interns

    There are some circumstances under which individuals who participate in “for-profit” private sector internships or training programs may do so without compensation. The Supreme Court has held that the term “suffer or permit to work” cannot be interpreted so as to make a person whose work serves only his or her own interest an employee of another who provides aid or instruction. This may apply to interns who receive training for their own educational benefit if the training meets certain criteria. The determination of whether an internship or training program meets this exclusion depends upon all of the facts and circumstances of each such program.

    The following six criteria must be applied when making this determination:

    1) The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;

    2) The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;

    3) The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;

    4) The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;

    5) The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and

    6) The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

    If all of the factors listed above are met, an employment relationship does not exist under the FLSA, and the Act’s minimum wage and overtime provisions do not apply to the intern.

  160. 160
    astrodem says:

    @scav:

    Yeah, CEO pay would come down! LOL

  161. 161
    Kay says:

    @Pococurante:

    Thanks, it was fun.

    I saw in yesterday’s thread (I think!) that you’re following immigration. I’m checking in when I can on debate/passage and I followed the last bill (the one that failed under Bush) closely, but I don’t know much about it as a general topic or issue. I’ll try to post periodically on it if people are interested.

  162. 162
    MattR says:

    @astrodem: If I understand correctly, the current law provides no exemption for small businesses/start ups regarding unpaid positions (students, volunteers, internships). I am fine with that. If we are going to change the law, I would rather see those companies be allowed to offer possible future compensation than allowing them to offer no compensation whatsover.

  163. 163
    Pococurante says:

    @Kay: To your first question, that is certainly how we originally sold the idea to management, that we were creating an ecosystem to hire in top talent and it gave much of the benefit of offshoring without the terrible quality problems. What they heard though was cost savings.

    Whatever it takes.

    But the number of such people who really are that great custom-fit employee and want to continue with us is breathtakingly small.

    These are young people after all. The good ones don’t always have a point of comparison with other companies; compounding that they sometimes have unrealistic expectations of their actual value (I hear a lot of variations on “I co-op’d for the summer and think you should bring me in as a senior engineer at XX salary!”).

    I was the same way, and it was quite a shock to me to bolt from IBM, get out in the world, then realize I’d made a terrible mistake and should have stuck with them.

    I agree with your other two points.

    @MattR: No worries. I’m clear that there are abuses. I was reacting to the usual “if any part is bad toss it all!”.

    I suggest this may be one of those things that will actually have more backlash than benefit. Co-op programs aside (where the school and state take much of the risk) we will see companies being much more picky who they’ll accept to pipeline for final employment and a dramatic uptick in turnover of those they do accept.

    But that too may not be bad. People in general often need a kick in tail feathers to take their life off auto-pilot.

    @astrodem: Awesome. Thanks.

    @Kay: I’d love to hear more. Immigration is an important issue to me, and here in Texas it is depressing to try having a reasonable conversation with so many.

  164. 164
    scav says:

    @astrodem: LOL exactly. Ever increasing profit must thus be squeezed out of the lower-down, that is to say the workers, as growth in the product-end of things has slowed recently. But you seem comfortable with basic logic working differently according to economic class.

  165. 165
    Linnaeus says:

    Neofeudalism…catch the wave!

  166. 166
    Mnemosyne says:

    @astrodem:

    I think that probably one of the biggest ways to avoid abuses is to set strict time limits on unpaid internships — say, 6 to 12 weeks. I think our (paid) summer intern is going to be here for 8 weeks. IMO, the serious abuses happen when companies keep interns for 6 months or a year or (in the case of the guy I knew in graduate school), three years of doing unpaid work at a production company in the hope of eventually being hired.

  167. 167
    astrodem says:

    @MattR:

    I’d be open to that idea. The real thorn in the side of start-ups is item #4, the question of advantage for the company. Most start-ups can structure their internships in a way to meet the other requirements. My argument is that for nearly all start-ups, you can’t allow the intern to operate facilities, create an educational experience, or benefit the intern unless there is opportunity for the intern to advantage (and yes, also disadvantage) the company. In other words, for start-ups requirement #4 is inherently incompatible with requirements 1, 2, and 3.

    That’s a problem, in no small part because as a country we should want young people to gain exposure to and experience starting businesses. And the fact is: start-ups generally can’t afford to pay! While I have no doubt the intentions behind these regulations were good, they’ve but start-ups in something of a bind.

  168. 168
    Mnemosyne says:

    Also, too, I know a lot of people here can’t stand “Girls,” but there’s a mordantly funny scene in the first episode where Hannah goes to the supervisor at the internship where she’s worked for two years to tell him she needs a paying job, and he says, “Gee, that’s tough. What’s your plan?”

  169. 169
    Chris says:

    @Emma:

    Unpaid internships should be fucking illegal. All of them.

    That is all.

  170. 170
    astrodem says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    I agree that time limits are a good idea in principle! If we were to change the laws as I have suggested, the length of time any single intern can work unpaid, and the length of time a start-up can use unpaid labor at all should be regulated. The exact duration of either can be debated in good faith, and might vary based on the industry and other factors. I see this is a regulatory issue that can ultimately be addressed and resolved in a way that protects the interns/volunteers and satisfies the business needs of start-ups.

  171. 171
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gene108:

    This is the sort of anti-business lawsuits that have chilled the business community’s desire to invest.

    Time to start putting the “business community” to death.

  172. 172
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The word you’re searching for that they had before the 1970s and 1980s is “nepotism,” which is the other thing that’s rampant in Hollywood.

    Two words: Pauly Shore.

  173. 173
    Chris says:

    @sherparick:

    Besides the class advantage unpaid internships give to are nascent hereditary aristocracy, this is consistent with libertarian ethos adopted by our elite. Mike Konzal discusses the feudalism implicit in libertarianism, including the idea that a man or woman can sell himself into slavery or serfdom, is acknowledged in one of Libertarian core documents not written by Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. http://www.nextnewdeal.net/ror…..-feudalism.

    Fuck, yes on the “libertarianism = feudalism” thing. Specifically, libertarianism = these aristocrats that opposed a strong and centralized monarchy, not because of any concerns for people’s inalienable rights, but because they were afraid it would allow someone else to enjoy the privileges of absolute power over life and death that they had in their little fiefdoms.

    In that scenario, their scrap with Communism is basically a repeat of the old “the king versus the nobles” conflict, where the main question was “one tyrant, three thousand miles away, or three thousand tyrants, one mile away?”

  174. 174
    astrodem says:

    @scav:

    Well I definitely don’t believe that established companies should benefit AT ALL from unpaid labor. Period. And I support extremely tough enforcement of FLSA against all businesses that can afford to pay their interns. I’m only saying I think there should be a narrow, time limited, and highly regulated exception for small start-ups.

  175. 175
    Tyro says:

    @karen: personally I think people should be paid for scut work. Call me crazy.

  176. 176
    Chris says:

    @victoid:

    This is a time honored capitalist profit strategy. For many years I played with rock bands in clubs where the pay of $300-$800 per gig provided a modest living. As long as the band had a following, this worked to the advantage of club owner and musicians. At some point in the late ’80′s, things changed almost overnight. As if in collusion, club owners across the country realized that the band’s following would show up, pay a cover and drink whether the band was paid or not. The default scheme then became: “We will pay you X% of admission receipts after Y number of covers.” You will first need to pay for rental of our sound system and a fee to our tech crew. But you can each have a few beers on us. Our net pay fell from about $500 per night to about $50.

    Modern American capitalism seems to increasingly be about figuring out a way to make yourself a middleman between the two parties of a transaction (musicians and fans, in this case) and then soaking both of them for all it’s worth.

  177. 177
    Tyro says:

    @gene108: it is not anti business. In a business, you have employees and hire people. If you are not paying people to do work, then you are not running a business. This is basic stuff here. Congress did not change the law. The law already existed. The businesses were skirting the law and simply had not been called to account for a long time.

    I was a graduate student. I was paid a stipend to support myself during my “training.” If an employer is not providing a living stipend to his trainers, then he is engaging in theft.

    You can ask me to get you coffee as part of my “internship.” But I am invocing you for my coffee-grabbing services. If you don’t pay the invoice, it goes to collections, and then to court. If you don’t understand this basic principle of “business” then you have no place calling yourself a “businessman.”

    You know what is “anti-busines”? Not paying “businesses” that work and provide services to you. Those “interns” are businesses, and you are going to treat them with respect as BUSINESSES, do you understand?

  178. 178
    astrodem says:

    @sherparick:

    Let me just preempt anyone bringing this up. I realize that my suggestion comes with an inherent class bias. But my impression is that starting a business itself is pretty strongly class biased. I would support ideas, including government funding, to remedy the class bias in both.

  179. 179
    Tyro says:

    @astrodem: you can’t hire people if you don’t have money, and you should not be depending on interns to run your company. All an intern needs to do is not have to do any work and have the internship provide a learning experience that provides no value to the company and, presto!, you do not have to pay them. So not a big deal.

    But tech startups don’t hire interns until they have money to pay them. This is a purely academic question.

    Every single non profit and now profit-making companies act like thu have an inalienable right to cheap or free labor. If you can’t afford to pay employees, you can’t afford to exist.

  180. 180
    Chris says:

    @astrodem:

    I would support ideas, including government funding, to remedy the class bias in both.

    Do what the Scandinavians did and create the strongest safety net in the world. When people know that starting a business and failing isn’t the end of the world because society will give them the opportunity to get back on their feet, they have much more incentive to take risks, and the “fail, get back up and try again” cycle allows them to learn from their mistakes. And sure enough, small business creation is alive and well in Scandinavian countries.

  181. 181
    mclaren says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Another sock puppet. Wow, the corporations must have a big budget for subverting social media.

    But I guess we already knew that:

    “1 in 10 social media reviews to be paid for by firms in 2014,” CNET, 17 September 2012.

    In tens of millions of reviews on Web sites like Amazon.com, Citysearch, TripAdvisor and Yelp, new books are better than Tolstoy, restaurants are undiscovered gems and hotels surpass the Ritz.

    Or so the reviewers say. As online retailers increasingly depend on reviews as a sales tool, an industry of fibbers and promoters has sprung up to buy and sell raves for a pittance.

    “For $5, I will submit two great reviews for your business,” offered one entrepreneur on the help-for-hire site Fiverr, one of a multitude of similar pitches.

    Source: “In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5,” The New York Times,, 19 August 2011.

    This particular corporate-whore sock puppet probably charged $2 per positive post on Balloon Juice. After all, this is a low-rent site, not one of the big draws like amazon.com. But even, this particular sock puppet is charging too much. The cartoonishly crude kind of paid astroturfed corporation fellatio being done here by clowns like procuramente and this fool PurpleGirl is just too obvious to work, even with a commentariat as dense as the one on Balloon Juice.

  182. 182
    fuckwit says:

    Um, you guys are providing blog content for free :-) Look… I just did too!

    Welcome to the internet. Everyone works for free, nobody gets paid.

    It’s the new economy!

  183. 183
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @fuckwit: You used to have to send a self-addressed envelope to get shit that good.

  184. 184
    mclaren says:

    @gene108:

    Devil’s advocate here.

    This is the sort of anti-business lawsuits that have chilled the business community’s desire to invest.

    Better devil’s advocate here:

    Forget about anti-business lawsuits like this, they’re small beans. We need to take a serious look at the very worst anti-business legislation: the 13th amendment.

    Reverse that one. Get rid of that pesky emanciaption proclamation from 1863. Boy, then business in America will take off like a rocket!

  185. 185
    mclaren says:

    @fuckwit:

    Welcome to the internet 21st century America. Everyone works for free, nobody gets paid.

    It’s the new economy!

    America has turned into Bruce Sterling’s joke:

    Soon, everything will be sort of free and nobody will have a job.

  186. 186
  187. 187
    fuckwit says:

    @mclaren: I love Sterling, and his snark is top-shelf but, actually, I do not think this is a bad thing. It’s a fantastic argument for socialism and a guaranteed minimum salary for all, free health care, free housing subsidies. Basically, the kind of futuristic paradise envisioned as far back as (IIUC) the industrial era. I’m ready for my jetpack, thanks.

  188. 188
    astrodem says:

    @Tyro:

    Thank you for re-iterating what the current law is. I am proposing the law be changed.

    My argument is that in America we should want interns to have the experience of being part of a start-up, even if they can’t get paid. It is good for the interns, good for the start-up, and good for the economy. But at a start-up, an intern who does nothing of any use to the start-up is inherently not getting an educational experience or benefiting from the experience of being part of a start-up. Since most start-ups can’t pay their employees (and the owners themselves are usually make significant financial sacrifices as well), this means you just aren’t going to see young people getting experience at start-ups.

    It also doesn’t change the fact that many start-ups are breaking the law anyway and doing it in a way that genuinely is abusive. The lax-enforcement we have now not only stacks the odds in favor of established businesses, but stacks the odds in favor of the start-ups who are willing to break the law. What I’ve proposed is a narrow, time-limited, revenue-contingent, highly regulated exception to FLSA for small start-ups. I recognize that this isn’t a perfect solution, but I think the benefits outweigh the costs.

  189. 189
    astrodem says:

    @Chris:

    Strongly agree with this idea too!

  190. 190
    lojasmo says:

    The prog nailed his first job interview. The interviewer told him he was the best interviewee she had ever met with. He got the job, and his starting wage will be $9.75/hour. Not bad for working in a thrift shop. He wore a suit and tie, and the rest of the applicants wore sweats and tee shirts, so there’s that.

  191. 191
    karen says:

    @Tyro:

    I’m not saying it’s good or bad. But maybe it was the time period, everyone wanted internships because they knew that usually internship = after graduation paying position at TV station or radio station.

    It may not be important to you but the interns had use of the production studios and cameras and were able to make air checks and news segments and that was what was used as auditions. Money was important but the opportunity was important as well. They had access and experience and a lot of my friends ended up with jobs in Broadcast Communications while I, on the other hand, didn’t take the internship and as a result didn’t have that advantage that my friends did.

  192. 192
    Tyro says:

    @astrodem: if you want to join a startup and not get paid, you can be one of the founders and bring real skills to the table.

    If you have real skills that you bring to the table before there is enough money to pay anyone, then you are a cofounder. If you do not have any skills to bring to the table and want to see what it is like, you can be an intern, which is perfectly legal. If you have some skills but the founders do not want to make you a cofounder, then they can give you a low level part time job paying $1000/month doing QA testing.

    What the hell is this about “interns” doing serious, important work for a startup and not getting paid and not being a cofounder? That is insane. I have never heard of something so asinine.

  193. 193
    Nutella says:

    @gene108:

    Busting a businesses chops for doing what they’ve always done just reinforces the anti-business aura around the Obama administration and the Democratic Party

    So if a business has been breaking the law and exploiting its workers for a long enough time we should let them get away with it. If they just started breaking the law and exploiting their workers recently then of course we must stop them.

    In other words, the establishment doesn’t have to obey the law.

  194. 194
    mclaren says:

    @karen:

    It may not be important to you but the interns had use of the production studios and cameras and were able to make air checks and news segments and that was what was used as auditions. Money was important but the opportunity was important as well. They had access and experience and a lot of my friends ended up with jobs in Broadcast Communications while I, on the other hand, didn’t take the internship and as a result didn’t have that advantage that my friends did.

    You don’t seem to be aware of it, but in broadcast TV studios, as everywhere else, these jobs are going away. Many radio stations and TV stations now have automated cameras and automated remote-controled video/audio mix setups. There’s one guy in a distant location who handles the cameras and does zooma and pan remotely and controls the live audio/video mix and title overlays etc.

    In some radio stations, it’s completely automated. Nothing but audio cartridges that get plugged in and run for the whole day with commercial breaks and everything else. In the midwest the police called a bunch of Clear Channel radio stations to warn them to evacuate for a tornado and there wasn’t anyone in the station to answer the calls. It was completely automated.

    See the article “Broadcast automation is critical in today’s economy: The keys to survival are automating processes, lowering staff count, smartening efficiencies and doing more with less,” Broadcast Engineering, 1 July 2009.

  195. 195
    Tyro says:

    @gene108: Why is it unethical? It’s an industry standard. Unpaid internships in the entertainment industry have probably been around before either of us were born.

    WRONG. Before, you used to get a menial paid job in the mailroom or as a personal assistant. You were treated like crap, but you drew a salary. Unpaid internships came about later.

  196. 196
    Tyro says:

    And not paying someone for work is unethical. Always has been , always will be. It doesn’t matter if your friends all do it, too. If your friends all best up on the poor kid, beating up on the poor kid is still wrong.

  197. 197
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: Slavery is good business. Our modern world, with slavery largely absent, is a historic aberration. 200 years ago, save for a few religious freaks and freethinkers, nobody would have understood why you’d even ask this question.
    But an internship isn’t slavery. A slave becomes capital that has to be maintained. That was the whole problem with the per-belluim South that so much money was invested in buying and maintain slaves they couldn’t’ afford to change to another system. This is more like some idiot’s boss fantasy that takes advantage of the prolonged childhoods in our society. Since the kids live for free with their parents at a working age they can afford to work for free.

  198. 198
    gene108 says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    except the workers who sued.

    Work got in way of blog commenting reading comprehension. I merged the first two articles together in my head about government wanting to crack down on intern abuse, with the government bringing a lawsuit against Fox Searchlight and not the interns themselves.

  199. 199
    astrodem says:

    @Tyro:

    Well you are hearing of it now! Welcome to the real world. It is happening and in a way that is abusive or structured so that it overwhelmingly benefits the employer, while giving little in return to the intern.

    “Not paying someone for work is unethical? Always has been, always will be.” That’s a pretty blanket statement which ignores the huge range of volunteers who do unpaid work for non-profits, campaigns, schools, religious institutions, and other charitable causes. I think this issue has a few more shades of grey than you are willing to acknowledge.

  200. 200
    astrodem says:

    I have to go. Thank you all for a constructive discussion. You’re feedback, even if I disagreed, is valuable and appreciated.

  201. 201
    Nutella says:

    @astrodem:

    That’s a pretty blanket statement which ignores the huge range of volunteers who do unpaid work for non-profits, campaigns, schools, religious institutions, and other charitable causes. I think this issue has a few more shades of grey than you are willing to acknowledge.

    Everyone here has been talking about for-profit companies. The law is already different for non-profits.

  202. 202
    Tyro says:

    @astrodem: Well you are hearing of it now! Welcome to the real world. It is happening and in a way that is abusive or structured so that it overwhelmingly benefits the employer, while giving little in return to the intern.

    Because the tech industry relies on skilled labor, most internships are paid. Startups that take on interns are typically at the stage where they have funding, to the point where the founders are drawing a salary from the VC investment. An unpaid internship would make absolutely no sense, because an intern could simply get a paid job elsewhere, either at an established company or at a startup that had enough money to pay an intern. What you are describing makes absolutely no sense, because circumstances would never exist to create it.

  203. 203
    karen says:

    @mclaren:

    That was why I said it was in the 80s. That was also when disk jockeys existed. I was not aware of how things are in broadcasting now except that a lot of what I learned became obsolete, especially since one of the things I learned how to do was how to cue records and use carts…like I said obsolete.

  204. 204
    smeh says:

    A fellow student embarked on an unpaid internship last year. She worked 3 days and saw that it was well, smeh. She told them Friday would be her last day offering 2 more days of slave labour. They said she had to give two weeks notice! To her credit she said fuck you and didn’t show up on Thursday. Thats what we are up against.

  205. 205
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    Just because an industry has been doing things wrong for a long time doesn’t make it right.
    We had slavery, women couldn’t vote at one time and these were wrong. That we had been wrong for a long time didn’t make it right and not paying people to work is wrong. Teaching people either needs to be paid by the public(free public education) or paid by private companies. That is how a culture grows and gets better. Not by exploiting people, but by recognizing that education has value far exceeding the cash outlay. The cost is in not giving free education.

  206. 206
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    Dude you are just flat wrong.
    I worked in and owned a business that would by any standard be considered craft work. There were/are master craftsmen, craftsmen and apprentices.(Back a few decades almost all men). Apprentices got paid. The risk was taken by the employer. It was the cost of doing business. It took about ten years for a person to get from walking in the door to the upper end of craftsman. Master craftsman about another 5 years. You worked, you earned money.
    That is the deal. Anything else is theft of services by the employer.

  207. 207
    Ruckus says:

    @astrodem:
    That is part of the cost of doing business. You don’t get to start up a business on the backs of employees.
    This shit is really simple.
    You show up for work, you get paid. You show up for work and fuck off you get fired. You show up for a job for which you have trainable skills, you get trained. And you get paid. The risk is on the employer. That’s the cost of doing business. It’s factored in. Free internships just increase the profit margin of the business. That money that you should have earned? The CEO used that for his vacation. Sucker.

  208. 208
    Li says:

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: This isn’t even slavery. Slaves got room and board, at least. This is about american corporations wanting to treat people as less than slaves. It’s abominable.

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