We are pleased to draw your attention to the inauguration of the International Coalition for Fair Internships, a global affiliation of organizations and independent advocates. We declare ourselves aligned in the shared cause of confronting the increasingly widespread practice of wage theft conducted under the guise of “unpaid internships” and promoting genuine training and learning opportunities for today’s young adults.
In January 2013 the first of several global summits was held, bringing together for the first time advocates from eleven different organizations, campaigns, and perspectives located across the globe:
Canadian Intern Association
Geneva Interns Association
Hague Interns Association
Intern Labor Rights
Plattform Generation Praktikum
Precarious Workers Brigade
University of the Arts London Students’ Union
“Unpaid is Unfair” Campaign at the United Nations
While circumstances of practice and law may differ among these various advocates’ areas of focus — including the labor markets for various for-profit industries, governments, non-governmental organizations, and not-for-profit sectors —commonalities are such that we find our shared interests benefit from our mutual support and solidarity.
Coalition members do not believe that academic credit is an acceptable substitute for an adequate wage, or that the conferring of academic credit creates automatic exemptions to workplace regulations.* Most internships do not provide training similar to vocational or academic instruction. Instead, interns are regularly assigned work that would ordinarily be done by a paid employee. To the worker whose job is replaced by an employer who has learned to rely on the labor of unpaid interns, it does not matter that an academic institution deems the experience credit-worthy. Universities do not regulate labor markets.
Unpaid and poor quality internship practices violate basic principles of fairness and justice by:
• Contributing to unemployment and inequality
• Denying opportunity to those who cannot afford to work for free
• Reducing diversity in the workforce by relying on structural privilege
• Eroding employment-based workplace protections
• Devaluing of the dignity of work
• Creating downward pressure on the wages of workers who have to compete with free labor
• Promoting accumulation of wealth by some through the uncompensated work of others
• Producing a culture of self-denigration
The International Coalition for Fair Internships will continue working together to broaden and strengthen our network of mutual support, and to hold stakeholders accountable in all economic sectors. As the ICFI, we invite members of the press, public and governments to contact us with questions or comments, or to join this cause.
With sincere appreciation for your consideration,
The International Coalition for Fair Internships participants and members
Coalition email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Coalition website: http://fairinternships.org
For the full press release and contact information of all participating groups, please download the PDF: