Don’t Be Cheeky About Unpaid Labor, NYT, Be Angry

“The No Limits Job,” written by Teddy Wayne, appeared in Sunday’s New York Times. The piece opens with a reference to a Taylor Swift lyric, and tells the stories of four women in creative industries long hours for little or no pay. The piece appeared in the Style section.

And it shouldn’t have. This is not a trend story. This is a news story. This piece shouldn’t be cheeky. It should be angry. These women are not outliers. This is not an anomaly. This is how it is now, and it’s sad and terrible and infuriating.

Here’s an anecdote from the piece:

On her last day at one job, her 75-year-old supervisor asked her to help move some heavy things in her house. In her garage, the supervisor opened a door from which issued a blinding stream of light.

“It was a huge room filled with her own field of marijuana plants,” Ms. Schiller said. “She conscripted me for no pay to harvest it overnight. She makes $35,000 per crop and it goes straight to her retirement account.”

The intern’s payment the next morning: a breakfast burrito.

That is actually funny. It’s absurd! But it’s also an intern being made to do illegal work for long hours and no pay. As Josh Eidelson would say, “That’s a labor story.” So why is it in the Style section?


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