The White House and the aristocratic institution of unpaid internships

Michael Lind writes: What do you call an employer that refuses to pay its workers any salary at all? Answer: The White House.

President Barack Obama has called for an increase in the U.S. minimum wage. And yet his administration expects hundreds of young people each year to work at the White House for an hourly wage of zero.

According to a White House website, White House interns are expected to work “at least Monday-Friday, 9 am-6pm.” Nice touch — “at least.”

In return for a full week’s worth of work and possible overtime, the White House provides its interns with no pay and no housing help. The latter is significant, because the Washington, D.C., metro area has among the highest costs in the U.S.

The problem with the unpaid internship program, which Obama inherited from previous Oval Officers and which has continued, is not sweatshop exploitation — it’s blatant class discrimination. [Continue reading…]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email