Friday, March 2, 2007

Free interns illegal? Weeklies disagree

Media outlets who use unpaid interns who are not registered students are violating state labor laws, the SF Weekly claims in a story that allows it to bash its rival, the Bay Guardian, which is accused of using such help. The SF Weekly also points fingers at San Francisco Magazine, 7x7, Diablo Magazine, Dwell and Yoga Journal.

"If you're not a student getting [academic] credit, you're not a true intern," Stephanie Barrett of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is quoted by the SF Weekly as saying. "You're an employee and you should be paid like one."

The SF Weekly's Martin Kuz writes the following about the Guardian:
    "The Guild official [Doug Cuthbertson] contends that the Bay Guardian's dependence on unpaid interns contradicts its persistent advocacy of workers' rights. Recalling Brugmann's quashing of efforts to unionize the paper in the 1970s and '80s, Cuthbertson says, 'For all [Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann's] liberal talk, he hasn't matched it with his actions.'"
However, Brugmann says he is obeying the law as it has been interpreted by the California Newspaper Publishers Association, whose legal counsel disputes the state's legal analysis that only students can be classified as interns.

The SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and their owner, Village Voice Media, are being sued by Brugmann's Guardian for selling ads at below the cost of producing them in an attempt to put the Guardian out of business. The trial starts July 16 in San Francisco.

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