The week in work: twin intern developments; Hardee’s Har Har; Amnesty’s dirty work?; and a horse of a different color.
Intern abuse? Have mercy!
Under current US labor law, unpaid interns basically don’t have any rights on the job because they’re not paid. In fact, they don’t even have civil rights, because the Civil Rights Act only covers harassment and discrimination against employees… and interns aren't employees because they’re not paid.
If this whole unpaid intern system sounds backwards and ripe for abuse, that’s because it is. And now the company owned by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen is the latest in the media & fashion industry to be confronted by the issue. Former interns have filed suit against the twins' company, alleging they worked 50 hours a week under heavy demands and should in fact have been covered by minimum wage laws. While one of the examples offered sounds a little out of place in a story of workplace abuse — “I’d see a lot of kids crying doing coffee runs, photocopying stuff” — it also definitely sounds like a job. But perhaps the most damning anecdote goes to a dark place on the very nature of commerce: the lead plaintiff reports that the Olsen Twins themselves “were never mean to anyone. They’re business people.”
In fairness, he didn’t say “at some point within the next 24 years”
The Wall Street Journal complimented Wendy’s executives this week for the “public service” of articulating their clear opposition to raising the minimum wage. Certainly no one can question the bravery involved in a CEO giving an Economics 101 lecture to investors about how paying poverty-wage employees more money is bad for them. But the specific argument made by the Wendy’s execs — that higher wages will lead to price increases, which will destroy revenue, which will eliminate jobs — may sound a little familiar coming from top execs at a not-quite-first-tier burger chain.
That's because 24 years ago, a Hardee’s executive said pretty much the same thing. In 1991, a Hardee's rep explained that if you supported the idea of increasing wages above $4.25/hour you must be “living in a dream world” because higher wages will lead to price increases, which will destroy revenue, which will eliminate jobs. And he even made a prediction: if wages increase further, “we’d probably be out of business at some point.”
The Federal minimum wage is now $7.50 and the Hardee’s chain has 1,900 locations in the US.
A job’s a job, right?
Amnesty International has officially recommended the full decriminalization of adult, consensual sex work, describing it as the only way to fully protect the human rights of the workers involved. While many critics of the decision point to the high levels of abuse & trafficking that are linked to sex work, there also seems to be an underlying deep resistance to the idea that sex work could ever become — of all things — a boring old job.
And that raises the question of why a moral haze and a low status always seem to come along for the ride when traditional "women’s work" joins the capitalist economy. It can be a tough set of issues for feminist workers rights types to navigate, but the best place to start is probably to listen to what organized sex workers have to say. If you're afraid contaminate your google profile by searching for it, 1) you can’t get sick that way, and 2) here are a couple places to start that are 100% browser-history-safe.
Guess it's better than beating a dead horse
An eagle knocked a drone out of the sky, then “hovered over to make sure we had learned our lesson,” and somehow this all happened in Australia rather than the USA.
Butterflies in Ecuador have been seen drinking the tears of turtles as a source of sodium and other minerals, but experts have failed to explain why the turtles are so sad in the first place.
And a Chilean horse named Dreamer fell into a well and was rescued several hours later by firefighters, raising questions of whether other species get faster response times from emergency crews.