KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A disagreement is brewing among city leaders about internships.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is among those who question how one metro nonprofit is using unpaid interns, and why those workers can’t be paid. The mayor has his eyes on the Kansas City Chamber, which makes its home inside Union Station.
The Chamber typically uses eight to ten interns, most of whom come from colleges, where they pay tuition and receive college credit for their work at the nonprofit agency.
“Indeed there are a lot of people who want to get paid and help out their families. That’s a core of these positions,” Lucas said on Thursday.
Lucas and his staff question why the Chamber, given its large number of member businesses, doesn’t pay its interns. The mayor said that’s in sharp contrast to programs led by Hire KC’s summer employment program, which offers paid summer internships to high school students from at-risk neighborhoods.
So far, that program has received 900 applicants to fill 500 summer jobs.
“For us, what’s most important is making sure we’re getting kids opportunities, but opportunities look like real work. Part of real work is getting paid at the end of the day. We’re making sure we get that as well,” Lucas said.
FOX4 received a statement from the Kansas City Chamber, saying in part: “As a not-for-profit organization, we have never paid any of our interns. However we do give them valuable experience, which they may receive college credit for.”
The Chamber’s statement also said that nonprofit has hired a number of interns as full-time employees, and it supports them in their lifelong career goals.