It's nice to see that some people are so eager to tell others where they are allowed to volunteer now. A whole new level, I'd say. Minimum wage is not enough of a burden to prevent those willing to work from getting jobs because nobody would hire them at their current skill level for that amount of money. Now it's "you can't volunteer here".
Oftentimes, volunteering is just an excuse for the companies to use unpaid workforce (students, fresh graduates, ... i.e. people that don't have enough leverage on the job market to actually get a real paying job). If it is made illegal, then companies will always have to pay for work done that is useful to them.
So we should rob these people of one of the ways in which they can gain actual experience and make themselves salaried employees? The government should IMNSHO only concern themselves with one thing: is it consensual or not? If it is, they should back off and leave people alone.
It's really easy to exploit people when there isn't regulation of this...and even when there is.
For example, creative jobs in NYC. There's tons of illegal, unpaid internships and tons of companies who don't want to pay. I know several animators working in the industry there and often it takes them 6 months after a project to get paid and frequently studios try not to pay. I know a couple of people who have worked in the industry for 6 or more years and never been able to get a paying job.
Imagine working in an industry pulling 60+ hour weeks for 6 years and never getting paid for your work...and that's after being saddled with 200k in loan debt from an art school. There are so many people in that area willing to work for free and are used to it that it's difficult to find long-term paying work.
It's tough, I know. But it's no different from other artsy endeavours. People bust their ass for free playing music, and very few of them actually make a living. It may sound harsh, but it's not a human right to make a living doing music, painting, or anything really.
If someone is profiting directly from your labor, you deserve to be paid. It's not okay to have an industry structured to exploit your labor. You shouldn't be forced into a choice between "work, don't eat" and "don't work, don't eat".
There's a vast chasm of difference between "right to work" and "right to be paid for your work".
Just because it's "artsy" doesn't make it more okay.
How are we to define exploitation anyway? Because to involve government is a pretty big deal. Government operates with violence or the promise of violence if you don't comply, and that is a very big deal in my opinion. Of course, if someone is being tricked or coerced, the government should absolutely step in. But when we are talking about informed consent between adults? I don't think so. I'm sure there are people out there who think writing open source is exploitation, and that people who write open source are being exploited (since they are working for free most of the time) by companies who don't contribute back. But should we enact laws to "protect" people in open source? I don't think so.
Because after all, open source gives us software for "free". Much of this software would otherwise have to be written commercially, so one can make the case that people who write software for a living deserve to be protected from this open source nonsense.
So what? Why is lowering wages a bad thing? If the wages are lower across the industry, it means consumers get lower prices. You're totally ignoring the consumer side of the equation.
So really, any regulation has another side. It benefits one group of people, while robbing another group, which is less vocal and less identifiable and thus is less likely to be remembered in this case at all.
You're both arguing about something irrelevant. Whether low wages result in lower prices or higher dividends doesn't matter. The point is that a worker and an employer have decided on what each believes is a mutually beneficial relationship. Unless someone is forcing them at gunpoint, we should respect their free decisions.
You implied that employers always have the power in the relationship. I'm pointing out that it can go either way. Obviously people working for free must be in a weak negotiating position.
Even still, nobody's forcing them at gunpoint. Presumably they chose a an unpaid graphic design internship because they value the experience. They could have chosen to work elsewhere for pay. As long as they are not being forced, are not being deceived, and are choosing according to their own priorities, it's their decision.
> Are you sure that robbing is the word you are looking for?
Your choice of word, mate, not mine. If you want to talk about entitlement, lead on.
Free labour will always out-compete paid labour, and the more free labour in the market, the lower wages get, so the point I raise is valid - they gain their experience at the overall expense of the rest of the developer community.
In general, usage of unpaid interns damages the social contract between employer and employee - fair wages for fair work. Look at what has happened in other industries where wages have been driven down - America's regional airline pilots are paid ludicrously low wages despite the rather important role they have, with flow-on effects that speculatively affect safety.
I have a feeling I've struck the libertarians of HN, in which case, this discussion is probably for naught.
Well, I actually used the word for people who are being or could be actively forced to stop volunteering, so I think the word was entirely appropriate in that context. I understand that people perhaps feel trapped or exploited in a very limited number of industries because the competition for the jobs are so fierce. But like I said in reply to someone else, someone can make the case that open source contributors are being exploited since they are essentially working for free, and there are companies making use of their work without contributing back. Professional programmers, one could argue, is therefore making less money or loosing out on a lot of business. But you know what? It was the open source contributor's choice under which terms he or she would release the software. I like treating other people like adults, and not thinking that I know what is best for them. As long as no one is being coerced I don't see why the government of all people (who operate from the barrel of a gun, or at the very least the very real promise of violence if you don't comply) should intervene.
If everyone picked up their friends and family from the airport, there would be no more business for those who make a living transporting people to and from the airport. Even if it came to that, should we enact laws to protect the businesses? I would argue no. Why? Because it is no one's business but mine and those I pick up.
Couldn't you argue by that same logic that price fixing between companies is perfectly legitimate, since there is no direct coercion on the buyer to consume these products? Just because there is no direct coercion doesn't mean the situation is mutually beneficial. The situation is only beneficial to companies, the workers simply don't have a choice since they need some form of experience to get a paid job.
By working for free, they're trading work for something they value - experience, perhaps. Unless the market is being manipulated by collusion or regulation, their choice of what to charge for their work is as valid as yours.
> The government should IMNSHO only concern themselves with one thing: is it consensual or not?
I agree, except I would also add that companies shouldn't be allowed to conspire about wages. If they must compete, the ones that pay the most (or offer the most valuable experience) will get the best interns and all will be well.