AIA Georgia, along with numerous chapters throughout the AIA community, believe that it is wrong to award our highest design and personal honors to individuals and firms that violate both AIA and federal employment policy by utilizing unpaid labor. In Philadelphia – at the 2016 AIA Convention – AIA Georgia, AIA Atlanta, and others championed an overwhelmingly affirmative vote of our members that made this a policy. This is a clear and unequivocal commitment in the profession that any architectural work done in our firms should be compensated fairly.
The Unpaid Labor Resolution (Intern Declaration Policy) is now official AIA Institute policy, and chapters across the country have adopted it locally. Both AIA Georgia and AIA Atlanta now require statements of compliance with this policy for applications for our Design Awards, and those Honor Awards that recognize individuals or firms for their leadership in the profession.
The most important reason for this policy is to make clear that AIA considers the use of unpaid labor to be unethical, and that it should require nominees for its highest honors to affirm that they have not used illegal hiring and employment practices through unpaid work arrangements – and have not done so for a period of 10 years.
The Unpaid Labor Resolution policy does the following…
Explicitly recognizes that an applicant for an AIA Honor Award adhere to Federal labor laws. This is especially relevant with regards to recent court rulings in how the term ‘intern’ is defined and being used in a wide variety of professions, including architecture.
Clarifies and explicitly recognizes a sustained commitment regarding the use of unpaid labor over a reasonable amount of time, as was the original intent of the old Intern Declaration Policy.
Individual candidates and applicants will need to explicitly acknowledge they’ve read the policy and have been in accordance with both the letter and the spirit of its intentions. Or, in the case of a Rothschild or Ivan Allen Award, or Firm of the Year, a nominator filling out the application could acknowledge the policy. We are advocating for a greater individual accountability in this regard.
This policy does NOT impact the very effective work-study programs in place between firms and schools of architecture, where students work without financial compensation, but do receive class credit for their work contributions.