April 15, 2012

Progressives, environmentalists, and worker exploitation

Years ago, both professional environmentalists and professional progressives "lost" much of working America. In some cases, this was workers' fault. Resisting building green, fuel-efficient cars is a prime example; despite what Detroit said, the Japanese built more, and ever-better ones, and sold boatloads. Or, some racial issues back in the 60s and 70s, when many unions still weren't always broad-minded, are another example.

At other times, especially today, though, professional progressive and environmental organizations are the ones doing the "losing."

Take organizations that (as you may have seen on some job alerts, at places such as Idealist) that offer to hire people for just under $24K a year in the name of starting up some new district office vaguely dedicated to progressive or environmental issues. Fair Share Alliance is the latest of these, which seem to change names every 6-9 months.

Well, when it changed names to Fair Share Alliance, thinking it might be different, I actually applied. And got to the initial phone interview round.

First, if the office calling me was typical, organization or similar skills that people are supposed to learn aren't being taught a lot. But that's secondary.

I was told the job could often run around 60 hours a week.

And that means, at $23,750, people are literally being paid the equivalent of minimum wage if they were on wage not salary.

Do the math. Take 40 hours at $7.25 and another 20 at time and a half, and you'll end up at around $23,750.

So, if such "progressive" organizations are teaching young, would-be liberal activists a lesson, if any, it's about how inside-the-Beltway groups of multiple political stripes can and will be exploitative.

Nice "lesson," eh?

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