Union Interns Unionize Against Union

I’m pretty jaded for a five-year-old. Not much surprises me when it comes to edu-news. But sometimes, just sometimes, I see a headline that really catches my eye. Usually, that moment is followed by me checking the calendar for dangerous dates (remember April Fools’ Day?) and ensuring that I’m not looking at something like The Onion. That’s exactly what I did when I read the Daily Caller headline that the American Federation of Teachers’ paid interns are unionizing. Fortunately for us, it turns out that the article is genuine. I love fun Friday posts, and it doesn’t get much better than this.

Apparently, there is a high level of intern disgruntlement in the United States. The Daily Caller article links to a study covering some of the issues with unpaid internships. (Full disclosure: I have not read and likely will never read this study.)

AFT interns do not work on an unpaid basis. But, they have apparently grown weary of being underpaid, overworked, and receiving Spartan benefits. In other words, they are tired of being exploited by their employer. Beautifully, their employer in this case is a massive political organization that claims to be focused on protecting folks from exploitation.

This obviously puts AFT in an awkward spot, which may explain this fantastically uncomfortable statement from Randi Weingarten, AFT’s chief:

As an employer that pays interns a wage, and as a union that believes in workers’ right to organize, we know that people are more likely to succeed when they have a real voice on the job. Our interns have been invaluable, and we look forward to an ongoing, productive relationship with them and their union.

The new intern union, which is apparently the “first non-medical intern union” in the country, will be negotiating wages, hours, and benefits with AFT this month. One can’t help but wonder how AFT will conduct itself on the other side of the negotiating table. But hey, maybe a little role reversal will offer a new perspective on exactly how it feels to be a school board on the receiving end of union tactics.

You can’t make this stuff up, my friends. Have a great weekend!