White House Under Fire For Unpaid Internship Program

Group calls for White House to start paying its interns.

Official White House Photo President Obama addresses unpaid interns.
Last week Sheryl Sandberg's female-empowerment foundation found itself under fire for trying to hire an unpaid intern. The latest employer to be criticized for using unpaid interns? The White House.

A new group called the Fair Pay Campaign has been launched to target unpaid internships, and its first target is the White House and its unpaid internship program. "We have a minimum wage law in this country, and just because you call someone an intern doesn't mean you get out of it," Mikey Franklin, the leader of the Fair Pay Campaign, told CNNMoney.

The White House internship program is highly competitive, placing students in executive branch offices, according to its website. The interns work "at least Monday-Friday, 9 am-6 pm," the White House site says. Noting that President Obama has been a vocal proponent of raising the minimum wage, Franklin told CNNMoney that it only seems reasonable that the White House would start paying interns. "We don't believe the White House can, in good faith, go after minimum wage and at the same time have unpaid staff," he said.

After first trying to defend its unpaid internship as a "volunteer" position, Sandberg's Lean In Foundation backtracked and announced that it would set up a paid internship program. Unpaid interns have filed --and won-- lawsuits, and several employers already have moved to paid internships.

However, with sequestration, the federal government has been cash-strapped, and CNNMoney notes that paying the some 300 White House interns $9 an hour would cost $7.3 million a year. An email was sent to the White House press office for comment. We will update as we hear back.

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The world certainly is going crazy. These people vie for a non-paying position, no one forces them to apply or take the job. Those who get the jobs get a once in a lifetime experience, an education in how government works, and a wonderful line on their resumes as an aid to their futures. Now, after the fact they want to get paid. Perhaps they should learn lesson about life,such as "think before you leap" and" live with the consequences of your decisions"

October 11 2013 at 9:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The "paid" labor of the "internships" I worked during college were paid by me, I paid for the privilege of working toward my degree by paying for the semesters in which I was working in service to the community. I spent 2 years working toward getting into the internship I wanted, and was redirected to "where the greater need was". So I didn't even get to work in a field of my own choosing, I was sent into a free clinic that gave me none of the required "education" I was supposed to receive during my two semesters. Having been taught to look around and see what needed to be done, I did that. I was chastised for taking initiative, and accused of being there to take away paying jobs from the paid employees. I was an adult with a history of charity work prior to getting into school, and I view the "unpaid" internship as worse than slave labor because the students have to "pay to work". This is an ugly form of servitude in that it is hiding the true costs of doing business while exploiting students. It is not included in the GNP just like women's "unpaid" labor in the home is not included in the GNP. Volunteering for the community because it is a labor of love and an adult has the free time to devote to a cause that is appealing to oneself is a different story for adults who have "free time" to do their charity work.
The use of high school and college kids for unpaid labor is appalling in a market driven society based on capitalism. Is this a norm in other so called first world nations?

October 11 2013 at 7:41 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


October 11 2013 at 5:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Some people would pay the WH just to get an internship there. Come on, how did they come up with this? Ever since internships existed they were mostly unpaid! I would be glad to have my child get an unpaid internship in the WH, any day.

August 24 2013 at 11:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Slave labor?

August 23 2013 at 2:35 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

The White House does the same thing as 10's of 1000's of other internship programs. Very few are paid programs. Can I sue the state of FL because I voluntarily did an unpaid internship as part of my college degree?

If these people need to make money, get a normal job. Internships are traditionally not paid positions. But it can be used later to get a great job. The younger generations (I'm in my 40's) want everything handed to them while my generation and older worked for what we have. Not crying over this one.

August 22 2013 at 7:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Like everything else the White House is special.....I wish the guy living in it was special also....he is just a run of the mill politician who hoodwinked the country twice.

August 21 2013 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Trayvon Martin

But don't even think about saying anything, or the Liberals will be screaming Racist. Well only is your a "Creepy Cracker".

August 21 2013 at 12:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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