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John Batchelor


What happened to $15 an hour? Seattle City Council not paying interns

Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant has been one of the strongest supporters of the $15 minimum wage. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Taken from Tuesday’s edition of The Jason Rantz Show.

I wanted to point out a cool internship that was being offered by the Seattle City Council.

I know that a lot of people are trying to get work. I know that a lot of people are trying to get experience. And I found this Communications Internship position post (for Fall 2013) on the University of Washington website and I wanted to read it to you.

The position reports to the Deputy Director of Communications in the Legislative Department and it lasts for 10 to 12 weeks. It’s for presumably students with media, writing, broadcasting, writing, PR, emphasis.

When you look at some of what this internship is asking you to do, it’s pretty extensive. They’re asking you to track news reports and develop a comprehensive list of City Council mentions in daily media and blogs. It asks you to develop content for issue specific web pages or current upcoming city council legislation, update press lists, segment by topic, review materials for consistency of voice and message. It also really wants you to understand social media.

I seems to me like this is actually a really cool opportunity and I noticed something that was a little unsettling. What do you think the salary is for this internship?

A lot of internships offer salaries or stipends. They tend to be low because you’re taking these starter internships to learn valuable skills and take them with you to higher paying jobs. And some don’t offer any salaries or stipends. You’d think the Seattle City Council would be one of those employers that offers a stipend or hourly wage when they’re pushing all these businesses — big and small — to pay low-skilled workers $15 an hour.

They don’t want people, even the people with low skills or no skills, to be shut out of the workforce. They want to make sure those people can pay the bills, they can pay rent, they can put food on the table, they can pay their tuition.

So what do you think is the salary? It’s nothing. It’s unpaid. This is an unpaid internship. I just found that to be very bizarre for a city council that is so intent on making it so that people with no skills can get paid $15 an hour.

Normally, I wouldn’t be upset because this frankly, is a cool internship. You’re going to learn a lot about the process, a lot about city government, a lot about communications within a city government.

This is a starter job meant to give you the skills that you can then put to work in future jobs where you can actually ask for a higher salary or wage.

We need to acknowledge that a lot of those simple jobs like mopping up the floor, or being grocery bagger, or someone who works retail at Forever 21, are starter jobs meant for folks with low skills who then get to work and learn new skills. They learn time management, how to handle money, customer interface, and so much more. These jobs are not meant to live your entire life on.

The City refuses to acknowledge that simple fact when it comes to other businesses, but when it’s their own internships, they do acknowledge it – which is why they’re not paying the interns. They understand this is to help these college students gain skills they can then use at another job where they will get paid. It’s hypocritical of the Council.

Taken from Tuesday’s edition of The Jason Rantz Show.


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