unpaid labor

J.B. Pritzker — a billionaire heir to the Hyatt Hotel estate — has a higher net worth than Donald Trump, but is nonetheless relying on unpaid labor to win the Illinois gubernatorial race.

A job posting on the Pritzker campaign’s website is calling for “organizing fellows” to join the campaign and do all the work campaign organizers typically do, like call voters, knock on registered voters’ doors, and organize and conduct meetings to recruit campaign volunteers.

While Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is paying organizers $3,250 per month to work on his U.S. Senate campaign, and the New Hampshire Democratic Party is paying $3,000 a month for organizers to help elect Democrats, one of the wealthiest Democrats in the country is hoping unpaid labor will put him over the top in November:

“We are looking for individuals who want to gain valuable organizing experience on a statewide campaign and be a central part of advancing a Democratic, progressive agenda in Illinois,” Pritzker’s job posting reads. “This is an unpaid fellowship opportunity.”

Even though the job is being described as an “unpaid fellowship,” the job description itself is very similar to the duties listed in the paying positions offered by the O’Rourke campaign and the New Hampshire Democratic Primary:

Fellows will be asked to commit to a minimum of 15 hours per week and will:

-Organize in a community or on campus, working in conjunction with grassroots leaders and campaign staff

-Engage new potential volunteers through phone calls and canvassing

-Hold organizational meetings and other meetings to recruit new volunteers and supporters

While some political candidates for smaller races or with more modest net worths may be forgiven for not paying campaign workers, Pritzker has no excuse. According to Forbes, his net worth is roughly $3.5 billion, while President Trump — who owns several golf courses around the country, a private Boeing jet, and lives in a golden tower — has approximately $3.1 billion to his name.

However different their politics may be, both Pritzker and Trump share a common trait of relying on unpaid labor. In 2016, a USA Today investigation revealed that dozens of people who have done work for Trump or his properties were not paid for their labor. Since 2005, Trump’s companies have been cited for at least 24 labor violations, in which workers were not paid either overtime or minimum wage for their hours worked.

Pritzker did not return Grit Post’s calls to his cellphone, and his campaign communications director did not immediately return Grit Post’s requests for comment. This article will be updated in the event Pritzker or his campaign responds.


Carl Gibson is co-publisher of Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.

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