The majority of lawmakers supporting raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, in fact, pay their interns $0 an hour, according to a new study by the Employment Policy Institute (EPI).
The Congressional Progressive Caucus introduced their Raise The Wage Act in May, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.
“The federal minimum wage has been a stagnant $7.25 for far too long, forcing workers to juggle multiple jobs while barely making ends meet,” the caucus said in a statement. “For years, the Congressional Progressive Caucus and progressive groups like Fight for $15 and Good Jobs Nation have fought for workers’ right to a living wage and have continued to show how low wages impact the daily lives of working families.”
However, EPI found that 174 of the 184 progressive legislators supporting the wage hike pay their interns nothing.
Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and 20 other co-sponsors in the Senate hire unpaid interns.
In the other chamber, Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and 145 other co-sponsors do not pay their interns.
Only 10 co-sponsors of the wage bill offered their interns compensation.
EPI data said that Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) offer limited financial assistance.
Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) offer stipends just to cover expenses, such as housing and travel.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was the only senator to pay interns an hourly wage. However, he pays $12 an hour, while his “Raise the Wage” bill projects a livable wage to be $15 an hour.
The bipartisan group, Pay Our Interns, released a study citing that an average internship in a major U.S city costs $6,000.
Carlos Vera, an author of the study, said that offering unpaid internships favored applicants of higher socioeconomic status, who could afford to work for free.
Fox Business‘ Stuart Varney agreed with Vera.
“If you don’t pay them anything, then you’re simply giving jobs to the sons and daughters of the rich,” Varney said on Fox & Friends Monday morning. “You’re giving opportunity to the rich so that they can get in on the ground floor. So pay them something, and open it up to all kinds of people. But they’re not doing it.”
The EPI collected data from June 6-8 by calling staff members and visiting official House and Senate websites. The study counted offices that compensate some interns, but also offer unpaid internships, as “paying” offices.
“If Democrats in Congress are passionate about raising the wage to $15, they should start by paying it to their own staffers,” EPI’s managing director Michael Saltsman told the Washington Free Beacon. “It’s the height of hypocrisy to hire interns for $0 an hour, while asking private small businesses to pay $15.”