National Writers Union blasts Huffington Post for not paying Oasis masseuses

UPDATE: Huffington Post communications director Rhoades Alderson sends this email:

Here’s some background on the arrangement with our yoga instructors and masseuses at the Oasis, which I hope helps put things in context….

Off The Mat Into The World, which provides yoga instructors and masseuses for Huffington Post Oasis, is a non-profit with a mission to teach the benefits of yoga and relaxation practices to people not previously exposed to them. Many of us at the conventions fit that description, so it’s an ideal audience for them. Practitioners volunteer because they believe in that mission. Huffington Post donated $40,000 to Off The Mat Into The World, an amount that would have covered yoga instructors and masseuses in another arrangement.

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The National Writers Union says the Huffington Post has reached “new heights of shamelessness” by not paying masseuses for their work at HuffPo’s Convention 2012 Oasis relaxation stations.

“The National Writers Union believes if you do original reporting, work with an editor, and publish at a for-profit web site like the Huffington Post you should be compensated for your work,” says Larry Goldbetter, president of the National Writers Union. “If you’re a health professional providing a service for a wealthy corporation, you should likewise be fairly paid.”

From my Facebook wall:

The full release:

The National Writers Union strongly condemns the Huffington Post’s ongoing exploitation of unpaid labor. Since the 2008 election, the Huffington Post’s Off the Bus program generates high quality original reporting on all aspects of the election process. None of these citizen journalists are paid for their work, even when it draws significant national attention. The Off the Bus reporters at the Republican National Convention will continue the Huffington Post’s shameful tradition of exploiting unpaid work.

The company will also be reaching new heights of shamelessness. As part of its presence in Tampa, the Huffington Post offers convention attendees Oasis, a candle lit retreat that’s “a reminder to find balance in the hustle and bustle of the conventions.” Among the offerings are yoga classes, massages, mini-facials, and meditation. Like its thousands of citizen journalists and bloggers, the massage professionals are unpaid and working for “exposure.”

“The National Writers Union believes if you do original reporting, work with an editor, and publish at a for-profit web site like the Huffington Post you should be compensated for your work. If you’re a health professional providing a service for a wealthy corporation, you should likewise be fairly paid,” says Larry Goldbetter, President of the National Writers Union.

“Refusing to pay workers, whether journalists or health professionals, is a sadly fitting tribute to the candidate of the one-percent. We know this is how Arianna operates. With the National Writers Union, writers and their allies are delivering a powerful message that this kind of exploitation must end,” says Andrew Van Alstyne, Organizer of the National Writers Union’s Pay the Writer campaign.

The National Writers Union has fought for writers for more than 30 years. Its Pay the Writer campaign is dedicated to defending writers in the digital age.

UPDATE: Joe Coscarell at nymag.com writes: “A representative for the Huffington Post tells Daily Intel that the health team on hand at the Oasis are actually volunteers from the yoga nonprofit Off the Mat and Into the World, and that HuffPo has made a contribution to the cause. And yes, they do accept tips.”

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