To: Democratic Gain, Wellstone Action, JobsThatAreLeft, Idealist, Inclusv, UnionJobs.Com, , Progressive Exchange, Work for Progress, Organizers for America, Democratic National Committee
End unpaid internships and unfair compensation practices
Require progressive job posting boards and list servs to only post PAID internship postings (no stipends and paid a living wage) AND to only post positions which will be paid as employees NOT independent contractors.
Why is this important?
We, as progressives, believe in workers rights. Yet all too often, non profit organizations, political campaigns, for profit companies, and political organizations post jobs that either are unpaid internships or that pay workers as independent contractors instead of employees -- which means the worker is responsible for 100% of the taxes on their compensation and 100% responsible for benefits they would have otherwise received as an employee.
Research from Pay Our Interns show that unpaid internships effectively block the point of entry for college students who cannot afford to work for free to gain experience and that people of color and low-income families are significantly underrepresented. And, once the Democratic National Committee started paying their interns, the share of people of color in the program leapt from 18% to 42%.
And from my personal experience, I can tell you that in my twenties, I was paid for a number of years as an independent contractor instead of an employee. When I was hired for these positions, I figured I would hired as I had been previously - as an employee. And wow was I shocked when tax day came and I owed 30% of my earnings plus penalties for not filing quarterly estimated taxes. I didn't know taxes were not being withheld -- and I actually had to set up an installment agreement with the IRS. And of course, I didn't have health insurance during those years or any type of benefits.
These practices are unfair to workers across the United States. We can't stop employers from being greedy (oh how we've tried!) -- but we can get these progressive job boards to stop posting unpaid internships and to only post jobs which are paid as employees (W2, not 1099), which will cut of the pipeline of applicants to employers who aren't willing to pay their fair share.
By cutting off their supply of applicants, I believe we can force non profit organizations and for profit companies to do the right thing, pay their interns a living wage, and to pay their fair share of taxes and benefits.