Monthly Archives: September 2014

Governor Cuomo, Enforce the Labor Law!


On September 17, 2014 Intern Labor Rights joined workers at a rally calling for the New York State Department of Labor to enforce its own guidelines to protect workers from wage theft.

Join us at the next monthly protest! Details at

The following is a transcript of ILR’s public statement at the rally:

We are proud to stand side by side with all of you, including workers
from the Indus Valley restaurant,
from the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops,
from the Chinese Staff & Workers Association,
from the Flushing Workers Center,
from the National Center for Law and Economic Justice,
from the Coalition for a Real Minimum-Wage Increase,
and all the other groups and workers who have turned out today!

Each year in New York State tens of thousands of young people take on unpaid internships, hoping and believing that they will gain the training necessary to get jobs and begin their careers. The vast majority find themselves untrained and exploited. They are the victims of Wage Theft!

Governor Cuomo! Enforce the labor law!

I’m holding here in my hand a copy of the New York State Department of Labor’s own guidelines on unpaid internships at For-Profit Businesses.

What do the guidelines say?

They say that the vast majority of these interns are workers who have been misclassified as trainees.

What do the guidelines say?

They say that the New York State Minimum Wage Act and Wage Orders and the federal Fair Labor Stands Act require all workers to be paid at least a minimum wage. Yet the Department of Labor does nothing to hold businesses accountable – and many of them are large, profitable multi-national corporations.

Governor Cuomo! Enforce the labor law!

Recently, a young woman sued the David Letterman Show for back wages she was owed for the time she worked unpaid on his television show. This week, she withdrew her lawsuit.

Is that because she wasn’t owed back wages? No! She earned and deserves those wages.

She withdrew because she was frightened and intimidated. People were attacking her online.

How is it that an individual worker can be allowed to be intimidated simply for asking for the wages she earned? It’s because the New York State Department of Labor doesn’t step up to enforce the law on workers’ behalf.

Governor Cuomo! Enforce the labor law! Investigate the David Letterman Show. Make Letterman pay the back wages of all his unpaid interns!

Last year here in Manhattan, Federal Judge William H. Pauley III of the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York, ruled on behalf of a group of unpaid interns who worked on the movie “Black Swan.” It was a big hit, raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue yet some of the workers on the movie were not paid for their hard work.

I’m holding a copy of the judge’s ruling here in my hand. Here’s some of what Judge Pauley said: The plaintiffs “were classified improperly as unpaid interns and are ‘employees’ covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York Labor Law.” Judge Pauley’s ruling is clear and concise. According to his ruling, most unpaid interns are owed at least the minimum wage.

That ruling was made over a year ago. Judge Pauley says it applies to the New York Labor Law.

Where is the New York State Department of Labor? Missing in Action!

Governor Cuomo! Enforce the labor law!

View more images from the rally here.

Wednesday September 17th at 9am! Help NMASS Hold the NYS DoL Accountable for Wage Theft!

Join us and our friends at NMASS (National Mobilization Against Sweatshops) again this Wednesday, September 17th at the NYS Department of Labor on 75 Varick St in Manhattan! The rally begins at 9AM.

Demand that the governor and the DoL enforce the labor laws and put a stop to widespread wage theft that cripples working people all over the state!