It seems like we’re always in political campaign season. With recent special elections in Georgia and Kansas, there is little escaping politics.
Campaigns are well-known for the plethora of employees and volunteers knocking on doors, making phone calls and connecting with the public by any means necessary. Some of these are volunteers working a handful a shifts. However, many are interns and staff members working for little or no pay.
Bloomberg Politics published a story during the presidential campaign about Hillary Clinton’s use of unpaid staff. Relying on volunteers is hardly unique to the Clinton campaign, but it does raise interesting questions.
As the story points out, at the same time the White House was regulating unpaid internships, it was using unpaid interns. In another example from Pennsylvania, candidates battled over paying campaign workers.
Given how common unpaid work is in politics, it’s easy to assume there is no problem. However, this system can lead to volunteers and interns working full-time hours with little or no pay.
In some cases, people are happy to work as volunteers, even if it means long hours. Former interns and volunteers may use those roles to get jobs later. However, it’s a system that alienates those who cannot afford to take unpaid internships or dedicate themselves to only volunteering.
Employees, including those who work on political campaigns, should be paid for their work. It’s an area worth tracking, especially with so much focus on the political world and debates about minimum wage raging across the country.