It was no accident

We talked about how labor unions have been deliberately targeted for extinction and how that has contributed to wage stagnation and income inequality, but labor unions are just one piece of the puzzle.

There’s labor unions and then there’s the state side – government regulations and laws that helped create a middle class. The state side of the equation includes things like minimum wage and family and medical leave and unemployment insurance and laws to protect against discrimination and also overtime.

This is overtime:

The federal overtime provisions are contained in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Unless exempt, employees covered by the Act must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rates of pay.

And this is who used to get it:

In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. Not because capitalists back then were more generous, but because it was the law.

And this is who gets it now:

Only workers earning an annual income of under $23,660 qualify for mandatory overtime. You know many people like that? Probably not. By 2013, just 11 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay, according to a report published by the Economic Policy Institute. And so business owners like me have been able to make the other 89 percent of you work unlimited overtime hours for no additional pay at all.

And here’s what an enterprising political party that was looking to remain relevant to a huge group of people might do about that:

Fulfilling the “opportunity agenda” in his State of the Union address, President Obama signed a memorandum on March 13, 2014 that begins the process of updating the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime rules. In some cases, the president said, the federal rule originally designed to limit overtime for highly paid employees now covers workers earning as little as $23,000 a year.

Here’s an example of the type of employee who gets screwed by this, and this is the deliberate government action that cut their wages:

But in 2004, President George W. Bush’s Department of Labor overhauled the rules, which accomplished two things: First, it raised the salary threshold below which all workers are entitled to overtime, from $250 per week to $455 per week. And second, it reorganized all the exemptions in such a way that more employees wouldn’t qualify because of what they did on the job. Under the new rules, people could be defined as managers exempt from overtime, for example, while doing grunt work and supervisory work simultaneously.

I live and work in an area where lots and lots of working class, hourly people still receive overtime. I can tell you that they know exactly what it’s worth. They can tell you how many hours they worked “over” the previous week and in the next sentence they will tell you they can rely on an increase in their hourly wage and paycheck for that overtime work.

Maybe we could put members of the two groups in a room, the working and lower middle class people who still receive overtime and those who don’t. They can compare jobs, hours worked and pay stubs. Then they can ask their elected officials how this was allowed to happen and what they plan to do about it.

92 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    The Supreme Court is hearing a case next week about Obama’s reversal of a Bush exemption from the FLSA for a class of employees. The case is about procedure rather than the substance of the change, however.

  2. 2
    ruemara says:

    I could pull a 12 – 14 hour day, come in on a weekend and not make one dime of overtime. The rules are being gamed, just as you say. Part-time workers have to hit over 40 hours in a work week to get some sweet time and a half. I haven’t seen overtime pay in over a decade. We’re working more, with higher levels of skill and earning less. It would be interesting to see if we could have any party truly stand with labor and the American worker. Including, I should add, the American worker; who’s been playing a game of shoot yourself in the foot for a few decades.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    And here’s what an enterprising political party that was looking to remain relevant to a huge group of people might do about that:

    Kay, I’m confused by this statement. What do you think might come out of the “opportunity agenda” and/or the signing of the memorandum?
    And how does merely signing it “fulfull” anything?

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    BTW, another good post, Kay. I will attempt to refrain from my current cynicism in this thread.

  5. 5
    Matt McIrvin says:

    And the people who don’t get overtime will say “why are those lazy, greedy bastards getting overtime pay that I don’t? What about the small business entrepreneurs?” and vote to get the laws lifted.

  6. 6
    satby says:

    This is a huge issue. Working overtime up until the law changed and it was eliminated in my position allowed me to raise and feed my kids. After the law changed my company instituted a mandatory 45 hour “work week” with no overtime. By then I was in a higher position and working those hours routinely as an “exempt” worker anyway. But it meant that my total take home basically stayed frozen for several years, since the merit raises ran about 1-3% a year.

  7. 7
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    If Democrats are looking for an economic agenda that steers away from extended policy round tables on the Earned Income Tax Credit versus a raise in the minimum wage, they might look to overtime because they have one huge group who gets it and one huge group who don’t, and that is (mostly) because government engineered it that way.

    No one is going to promote this, because it’s easier to throw up their hands and talk about the 21st century workplace and “the skills gap” and hand-wring about the declining middle class.

    This is a real action they could take, a tangible benefit, and one we would be returning to instead of inventing.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    @Corner Stone:

    It doesn’t fulfill anything and if you read the piece the only people lobbying government on this are the people who oppose it. I agree with your (implied) point – it means nothing except as a start.

    Democrats could adopt this, all of them, everywhere. They’ll have to. If they don’t it will die.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Kay:

    e only people lobbying government on this are the people who oppose it.

    Why is that?

  10. 10
    Schlemazel says:

    I do not get overtime pay & often put in more than 40 hours a week. I am happy to live under a bridge and roast sparrows on a curtain rod but it pisses me off that others, less deserving than I, have a curtain rod. I shall vote Republican because they will deny the less deserving a rod!

  11. 11
    Schlemazel says:

    @Kay: Democrats could adopt this, all of them, everywhere. They’ll have to. If they don’t it will die.

    If they don’t they deserve to die

  12. 12
    BGinCHI says:

    Kay, would it also be OK if they brought pitchforks to that room?

    Because after their consciousness-raising they are going to have some other work to do.

    Also, great to have Kay posting!!

  13. 13
    Baud says:

    Google tells me that DOL was going to put out its proposed rule this month, but it has been pushed back to 1Q 2015. So we should see soon what the proposals will actually say.

  14. 14
    Mike in NC says:

    Maybe we could put members of the two groups in a room, the working and lower middle class people who still receive overtime and those who don’t. They can compare jobs, hours worked and pay stubs. Then they can ask their elected officials how this was allowed to happen and what they plan to do about it.

    Those people would simply decide to kill one another. Easier than thinking about how they’re getting screwed over.

  15. 15
    Mike J says:

    Then they can ask their elected officials how this was allowed to happen and what they plan to do about it.

    The people who who don’t get overtime will insist that it be removed from the people who do. Overtime is something that people who make less money get and people who make more money don’t. Therefore, it’s a liberal giveaway to deadbeats. By June of next year, Fox will be demanding the repeal of all overtime laws.

  16. 16
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Mike J: Welcome to the crab bucket..

    Someone’s going to ride this all the way to the White House in my lifetime. Romney was the wrong messenger, is all.

  17. 17
    Poopyman says:

    Thanks, Kay, for bringing this up. An obvious issue for hourly employess, but let me give a brief word on us “exempt” employees. “Exempt”, of course, means we’re exempt from overtime. For high-tech workers who’ve been “liberated” by laptop computing, telecommuting, VPNs, and BYOD*, this means we’re freely encouraged to work all. the. time. For no extra pay.

    (*BYOD, for the fortunate few unfamiliar with the term = Bring Your Own Device. Now the employees can actually pay with their own money to buy the devices that tie them to the workplace 24/7.)

  18. 18
    geg6 says:

    I regularly work 50 to 60 hours a week. And though they gave a nice title, I am not a supervisor. I can direct others’ work and be there as a trainer or for advice but my director is supervisor for everyone in Enrollment. I don’t make a lot for my importance on campus and I don’t get bonuses or a raise more than 1-2% per year. OT pay would make a huge difference.

  19. 19

    Democrats need to ditch neo-liberal economic policies and stop being Republican lite. Wall Street has two parties while labor has none.

    ETA: Someone in the party needs to grab FDR’s mantle and advocate for more pro labor policies. Advocating for increasing minimum wage is just a start. Wages have been stagnant for almost everyone.

  20. 20
    El Caganer says:

    @Matt McIrvin: @Schlemazel: @Mike in NC: @Mike J: This is exactly what the comments at philly.com read like whenever labor issues – this, unions, anything work-related – come up. People have brainwashed themselves into believing the crap that Reagan dished out.

  21. 21
    mai naem mobile says:

    Just remember this was put into effect when Mitch McConnell’s wife Elaine Chao was the Sec of Labor. Wonder if ALG brought it up in a general way? Doubt it.

  22. 22
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    OT is required in my job. I was told to expect 50 hrs/wk on average. This year I’ll work at least 2900 paid hours (56/week on average), of which at least 700 will be OT at time and a half. A lot of that is ‘passive’: travel to job sites, sometimes 12 hour days of planes and cars.
    This OT is industry standard for our multinational manufacturing company at my level. But my European counterparts with the same job duties start out with at least twice as many paid days off, a level I’d have to work 10 years to attain through longevity. That’s the difference between US and European work standards.
    Also because we have to provide 24 X 7 support for our customers, someone has to be on call through every holiday. And I’ll be working 12/26 – 01/3 in another state because customers all want service work done during their holiday shutdowns, when their employees have time off to be with their families.

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    Part-time workers have to hit over 40 hours in a work week to get some sweet time and a half.

    In California, that’s not true. It was briefly true under Schwarzenegger for about a year, but it got reversed. So your employer(s) were lying to you when they said they didn’t have to pay you OT for working 9 hours instead of 8, even as a part-time worker. There are exceptions, but they’re very specific.

    I’m guessing what those assholes did was give you a “manager” title but a part-time salary, which would make you an “exempt” employee.

  24. 24
    Mike J says:

    @Poopyman: And people in tech use the stupid number of hours worked per week in their dick waving contests.

  25. 25
    Corner Stone says:

    @Kay: Holy shit. I just RTDA, and that is to despair, indeed. My God.
    I mean, I was aware of all the items he ticks through as root causes for wealth disparity. But the despairing part was that the current administration is possibly going to continue right along with them.
    “I’ve had conversations with administration officials about their forthcoming policy changes. And the scuttlebutt out of the Labor Department looks promising—for corporations. Not the middle class.”
    “The Obama team, in other words, is buying into the same discredited theories that were used to erode the threshold in the first place. Officials will very likely raise the overtime threshold just enough to say they’re doing something, without actually doing much of anything for the middle class or our demand-starved economy at all”

  26. 26
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Poopyman:

    *BYOD, for the fortunate few unfamiliar with the term = Bring Your Own Device. Now the employees can actually pay with their own money to buy the devices that tie them to the workplace 24/7.)

    This is a particular hazard for people in businesses that span many time zones. When your smartphone beeps with incoming email at 4:00 am because it’s 10:00 am in Berlin there’s a strong motivation to respond and not keep someone waiting.

  27. 27
    Tailgunner Joe says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Scott Walker has already done that thrice in Wisconsin. He’s an uneducated, ugly, uncharismatic mofo who you’d think could never get elected president, but that hasn’t been a problem in plenty of other places.

  28. 28
    RaflW says:

    @Kay:

    Democrats could adopt this, all of them, everywhere. They’ll have to. If they don’t it will die.

    The Democratic party leadership decided to throw in with the paymasters quite some time ago. How do we wrest control back?

    I just can’t imagine lily-livered House or Senate Dems (or Hillary for that matter) taking this on. I do see some of my state-level Dems here in Minnesota who would probably be in favor. But the MN House just flipped GOP – so we’ll see if that leads to fightin’ Dems or crouching Dems. The Lege opens in January….

  29. 29
    Citizen_X says:

    Oh, let me repeat this part:

    In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week.

    Wait, let me emphasize one point:

    In 1975, more than 65 percent of salaried American workers earned time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week.

    This is 100% never-heard-it-before news to me. All my working life, it’s been, “hourly workers get overtime, salaried workers don’t.” I assumed this was just The Way Things Are, and that’s all there is to it.

    Turns out I’ve been lied to.

  30. 30
    Mnemosyne says:

    @ruemara:

    Also, too — in California, one of the advantages to working for a corporation that’s giant and evil (or even the Giant Evil Corporation) is that the state labor board loves to monitor them very closely, because it’s easy to do and easy to catch them in violations. Add in the fact that a lot of the employees are unionized, and the companies stick pretty carefully to the letter of the law to avoid any surprise visits from the state or feds.

  31. 31
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: Not as strong as the temptation to reply with “Verzieh dich!”.

    No, that would be rude: “Verpissen Sie sich!” Mustn’t duzen the customers.

  32. 32
    Baud says:

    @Citizen_X:

    This is 100% never-heard-it-before news to me. All my working life, it’s been, “hourly workers get overtime, salaried workers don’t.” I assumed this was just The Way Things Are, and that’s all there is to it.

    Same here.

  33. 33
    Tokyokie says:

    The spousal unit, who has a dental degree from the Philippines, has worked for more than a decade as an orthodontic tech. Under the guy who started the practice, she was paid for 40 hours a week, even though the office only had half-days on Friday, and was averaging about 20 hours of OT a week. When the original boss sold the practice, the new orthodonist started closing the office on Fridays and cut everybody back to 32 hours, and he put the spousal unit on salary based on a 32-hour week. (He’s even suggested that should she need to work 60 hours a week to get everything done, then that’s what she’ll have to do, but because he doesn’t use as many orthodontic appliaces as the previous owner, she so far hasn’t had to.) And because she’s on salary, the new boss has dunned her vacation time for sick days, holidays, and days the office was closed because of inclement weather or remodeling. (She found out a week ago that despite not taking a single day of vacation this year, she’s already used 14 of 15 days.) And, because she’s on salary, he won’t let her take more than a couple of days off at a time (when he doesn’t steal the vacation time outright), because he’d otherwise have to do her job himself, and that means she probably won’t get to return home to see the cousin with whom she grew up essentially like a sister one last time before she dies of breast cancer.

    Her pay has been cut by more than half, and were she to be working much beyond the 32 hours for which she’s currently compensated, her effective hourly rate could fall to a quarter of what it was under the previous administration. Which is bad enough, but she hasn’t gotten a raise the entire time she’s been there, despite achieving some difficult certifications. But her boss has several letters behind his name, which makes him a job-creating titan and entitles him to steal from his employees.

    I’m sure he’s all for family values, too.

  34. 34
    RaflW says:

    Also, too: I’ve received two email copies of a DNC survey from “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” (a.k.a. an unpaid intern in the basement of DNC) asking about my 2014 activities supporting Dems, things I thought worked well, things that could have been better, and ways I’ll support the next mid-terms.

    I took 3 minutes to fill it out (twice, since they sent it 2 times over about 3 days), even though I’m pretty sure the results will, at best, be read by some other dispirited intern somewhere and then tossed.

    But just in case this was more than a fundraising vehicle – though surely that’s mainly what it was – I let Debbie know very plainly that I supported local Dems with my time, money, votes and enthusiasm. I just don’t support the national, timid, moneyed-class party. I said pretty clearly that the DNC needs to grow a spine.

    I’m not expecting much for my 6 minutes of being surveyed.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tokyokie:

    And because she’s on salary, the new boss has dunned her vacation time for sick days, holidays, and days the office was closed because of inclement weather or remodeling. (She found out a week ago that despite not taking a single day of vacation this year, she’s already used 14 of 15 days.)

    Depending on what state you’re in, that may be illegal. Check with your state labor board.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Citizen_X:
    @Baud:

    I’m not sure how it is in other states, but in California, there are two kinds of salaried employees: regular salaried, and “salaried exempt.” Salaried exempt don’t get OT, but they’re supposed to be a much smaller number of employees and are supposed to only be supervisors/managers.

  37. 37
    Mike in NC says:

    @Poopyman: I had a job where the company issued you a laptop, but there was noplace to lock it up at the end of the day so you had to hump it home every night. The same company stated for three years that there was a salary freeze in place, which I eventually found out was a lie.

  38. 38
    KG says:

    @Citizen_X: I did some wage and hour litigation early in my career. You’d be surprised at what is buried in the law. In California, to be exempt you have to qualify as executive, administrative, or professional. You can pay someone salary not in those categories, but you still have to give them meal and rest breaks and overtime. The reason for the three areas of exemptions are because there is assumption that those types of employees would be in a better position to negotiate terms. Though in my experience, that’s rarely the case for younger lawyers

  39. 39
    Tokyokie says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m aware of that, and mentioned it to her, but in a tight job market, do you want to go after the owner of a business that employs about 15 people while still having to work alongside him every day? Besides, we’re in Texas, which means we’re pretty much fizzucked.

  40. 40
    Kay says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Those people would simply decide to kill one another. Easier than thinking about how they’re getting screwed over.

    I disagree. The overtime calculation is such a given here. I do not talk to an hourly worker without them mentioning mandatory overtime, not enough overtime, too much overtime, why they went to such and such a shift for overtime, etc.

    My middle son does it. He was here last Sunday, they’re working a lot, and he complained about working 12 hour shifts and then immediately followed that with reciting his time and a half wage, which is of course much higher.

    There’s absolutely no reason he should be getting time and a half and a store manager should not, OTHER than deliberate decisions made by lawmakers.

  41. 41
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Most states allow you to make anonymous complaints. If you think she can make the complaint non-specific enough to her particular job that it could have come from any of the workers, it might be worth it. But in Texas, she’s probably fucked.

  42. 42
    hoodie says:

    Extended story in the local paper today about systematic failure of the state labor dept to pursue wage theft. A lot of these assholes have a long history of deliberately flaunting the law regarding independent contractor status and abusing bankruptcy to avoid paying. At least in this state, it’s almost never enforced, which screws the workers and the businesses that do obey the law. This crap won’t stop until people start doing time.

  43. 43

    @KG: California is pretty awesome in terms of worker protections. Which is why our economy sucks and no companies locate here… oh wait, our economy is great and lots of companies are located here. Huh.

  44. 44
    Kay says:

    @RaflW:

    I think liberals need some specific economic response to Democrats.

    After the election, there was a brief period where the national Party was saying they need an economic platform, but there was also this sort of casting around, “what can we DO besides the minimum wage?”

    Well, this is something they can do. Change the overtime rules. Change them BACK, really.

    People will be interested in hearing about it. It applies to a huge group.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    srv says:

    Maybe we could put members of the two groups in a room, the working and lower middle class people who still receive overtime and those who don’t. They can compare jobs, hours worked and pay stubs. Then they can ask their elected officials how this was allowed to happen and what they plan to do about it.

    It’s easier for them to just keep voting Republican.

  47. 47
    Baud says:

    I see everyone else is providing the cynicism I promised Kay I wouldn’t bring.

    Thanks, guys.

  48. 48
    Corner Stone says:

    @Baud: I don’t see it as being overly cynical. It’s a rational decision making process, with an extremely large amount of money involved.
    As you say, the earliest we’ll know what the true intentions might end up being will be early 2015.
    I, personally, have no doubt that raising the minimum wage and/or reverting overtime rules back to something reasonable, will lead to lower unemployment and wage growth. Now where are the people explicitly making this case?

  49. 49
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    It’s okay. I don’t agree though. This is something people will understand. Partly they’ll understand it because there’s already a huge group of people who get overtime. It’s nice because it’s listed apart on a pay record; regular then overtime. They can see it.

    All a politician would have to do in this county is use the word and he or she would have the attention of three quarters of the people in the room. If you look at the store manager example, where the store manager is doing 50% work that should be hourly, that doesn’t just screw the manager, it also screws the employees who are NOT exempt, because the manager is doing the work that would be their overtime.

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Doing something along the lines of what Kay suggests might also make for a good “pivot” when the Republicans play their game, telegraphed before the election, about “restoring the 40-hour work week,” by which they actually mean “stripping health benefits from more people,” but which sounds a lot like “stopping lazy moochers from sitting on their butts getting welfare.” In essence, the entire Republican Party is dedicated to the principle that Those People are getting welfare and People Like Us are footing the bill. If “narrative” and tactics and what have you are going to do anything for the Democratic Party, what Kay is outlining is a decent way to flip the script, because it’s all about _rewarding hard work_, which is what Republicans’ rhetoric always capitalizes on and then actively diminishes.

  51. 51
    Kay says:

    @Baud:

    It also gives Democrats a chance to talk about the work that people do, instead of talking exclusively about transfer programs. No one wants food stamps. They want to buy their own food.

    I think that’s where the disconnect comes in, the charge that they’re “technocrats”, because those transfer payments and tax policy discussions are so top-down. This would open a discussion about the actual day to day work that people do, and what they get paid for it. Everyone is included in that. Everyone’s an “expert”.

  52. 52
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: I think it’s actually better than the minimum wage argument because minimum wage carries with it a stigma about teenagers and unskilled work. Overtime doesn’t carry that stigma. Overtime suggests going beyond the call of duty and putting your shoulder to the wheel when the bosses fuck up and fall behind. Republicans will always squawk that more pay means higher prices, but I feel like this is a better argument than most, because it presumes a sort of fairness and reward-for-virtue structure that goes deep to the heart of what Americans profess to believe across the political spectrum.

  53. 53
    VidaLoca says:

    Kay, this is a state-level issue in Ohio, no? Why not move on this, no need to wait for something to happen at the federal level (that we all know won’t happen anyway).

    And here’s what an enterprising political party that was looking to remain relevant to a huge group of people might do about that…

    Why wait for such an enterprising political party to come along when we know that such a development is as likely as me looking out the window and seeing a unicorn in my back yard? Wouldn’t it work just as well if a few enterprising union local presidents who were looking to remain relevant to a huge group of their members and a lot of non-members besides were to

    put members of the two groups in a room, the working and lower middle class people who still receive overtime and those who don’t. They can compare jobs, hours worked and pay stubs. Then they can ask their elected officials how this was allowed to happen and what they plan to do about it.

    Imagine — they could set a fire under the asses of these Republican politicians who are quite comfortable doing less than diddly/squat unless somebody comes after them. If a few Democrats got injured in the crossfire that wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

  54. 54
    Kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    “restoring the 40-hour work week,”

    Exactly. ACTUALLY honor work, instead of with bullshit about how this one works and this one doesn’t.

    I welcome a debate on the 40 hour work week, but it has to include wages.

  55. 55
  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: If this debate ever actually starts with any kind of prominence, I will be very curious to see how Republican messaging starts undermining the concept/goal of restoring fair overtime rules.
    They can’t tie it to moochers, blahs or illegals. So what will be the code word they use? I don’t see how “job killer” works that well but my guess is that’s what they’ll try first.
    “Job killer” is always a useful catch-all because people don’t have any understanding of the larger economy or that whole thing. They only know they’re scared that the Kenyan is going to take action that will result in them losing what little pittance they have going for them now.

  57. 57
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I’d like to see action and messaging on the minimum wage because I think it’s an issue of elemental humanity. The overtime argument, IMO, is about wealth disparity while the min wage is about doing something more than merely surviving.
    Wealthy people aren’t getting rich off holding down the min wage crowd, as the article depicts, they are getting bonanza by wage theft from the depleting middle class.

    Edited a little because I’m not depicting this thought the way I want to.

  58. 58
    satby says:

    Lots of people feel very screwed by a system that classifies them as exempt even though they know they aren’t managers of anything but reports, spreadsheets or hardware; and would be anxious to support a change back to overtime rules of the hellacious 50s, 60s, and 70s. Even Republicans. In fact positioning it as a “return to the good old days” might even be an extra knife to twist.

  59. 59
    Corner Stone says:

    @Kay:

    If Democrats are looking for an economic agenda that steers away from extended policy round tables on the Earned Income Tax Credit versus a raise in the minimum wage,

    Man, if I hear one more damn pundit extolling the awesomeness of the EITC I may have to choke someone.

  60. 60
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Yeah, that’s what they’d have to do: say that it’s a meddlesome regulation that ends up costing Joe Consumer at the register. Which may persuade some people, your Fox And Friends and Hannity and other Fox Faux Savvy outlets. But like you’re saying, it feels a hell of a lot less demagogue-able than most wallet-scale issues. I think this is an idea with a lot of potential for doing real good and at the same time helping rebuild Brand Democrat. The more I consider it the more I like it a lot. I dashed off a note to my brother who’s an organizing vet on the minimum-wage campaigns.

  61. 61
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Oh, definitely, no point in discussing one without the other. But it’s interesting that they would seem to resonate very differently in political/rhetorical space.

  62. 62
    Kay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Thanks. I went to a “save the Democratic Party” event in Toledo yesterday and I told Marcy Kaptur but (on a personal note!) I think I get on her nerves. It’s just my sense in the 9 or 10 times I’ve spoken to her, and maybe it’s nonsense, but I don’t think so. I don’t harangue her or anything, but she seems wary of me.

    I should have had my husband tell her. She seems to like him. He’s giant and Irish-looking and brutally blunt so maybe that’s it :)

  63. 63
    VidaLoca says:

    “save the Democratic Party” event

    Seriously? Things are so bad that that’s how they’re billing it? I thought we were in deep shit here w/r/t the DP; thought you guys were in better shape…

  64. 64
    Kay says:

    @VidaLoca:

    I’m kidding. This is the official news story.

    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) made that case Saturday at a regional “listening tour” sponsored by the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association at the Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 50 hall in Northwood. Dozens of Democrats from northwest Ohio attended the two-hour meeting — the first of eight planned before a statewide chairman is selected.

    I got distracted by this “regional” process thing, where we would have a NW Ohio region, etc. 88 counties, 6 regions, it’s boring, no one likes process. Really, I was shanghaied into that group but ya know I went along willingly because I like the people who were pushing it :)

    It’s mostly about who I like :)

  65. 65
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Corner Stone:

    If this debate ever actually starts with any kind of prominence, I will be very curious to see how Republican messaging starts undermining the concept/goal of restoring fair overtime rules.

    Last election showed the GoP base is now retired whites. So most likely “lazy” or “entitled” (as in “your lazy, entitled kids want more toys instead of working hard like you did”) will be the base message.

  66. 66
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: except that overtime kind of by definition means working hard. So that’s probably what they’ll try, because that’s what they always try, but it feels to me like it ought to have less traction than usual.

  67. 67
    satby says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: A lot of those old retired selfish white guys were union, and a lot of them know their kids are getting screwed by a system that has them routinely work 60 hours a week with no overtime. This would resonate with them because it says work has value. That’s how they think they lived their lives and got where they did, by hard work (whether that’s true or not is another question). This is a basic fairness issue, people should get paid more if they work more than 40 hours a week. They did, and they thought that was fair.

  68. 68
    Ruckus says:

    Used to own what’s known as a craft labor business, years to become proficient, some pretty expensive tools to purchase. Per CA law we paid time and a half over 8/day or 40/week. Our standard week was 50-55 hrs and we made money. Not so as you call me in any way wealthy, the capital costs are high, but I made a living. After 20 yrs away I’m back at the same type of work. And getting time and a half over 8 or 40. And I’m part time but that’s CA law. As @SatanicPanic: pointed out CA is doing OK generally. It has gotten a lot better than say KS, which is if I’m not mistaken, a conservative run state. Or any number of conservative run states for that matter. As bad as a lot of democratic positions or lack of them may be they are dramatically better for what, 99% of us. Every conservative policy is aimed at very small minority, contrary views.

  69. 69
    Pogonip says:

    This scam is not new. In the ’70’s my mom worked off and on for a dime-store chain called Murphy’s. One 12-hour Friday or Saturday was required, the rest of the weekly schedule was designed to keep the employee at 39 hours so she wouldn’t qualify for overtime.

    I suppose nowadays the employee would have to work 12 hours a day Friday AND Saturday and be on call the rest of the week.

    Where I work, you can get OT for anything over 40 hours a week even if some of the 40 hours that week you were on sick leave. It’s in our union contract. Many of our biggest “overtime whores,” the ones who sign up for every minute they can get, don’t believe in unions.

  70. 70
    Tokyokie says:

    @Mnemosyne: She and the office manager are the only two salaried employees in the office, and the office manager (judging by the vacation days she’s taken) isn’t getting dunned for days the office is closed. So it wouldn’t be too hard for the boss to figure out who registered the complaint.

  71. 71
    BubbaDave says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques:
    I think a lot of that retired-whites GOP base is also out of touch retired whites. They don’t understand how much the rules changed in the last 35 years to screw the workers. They hear people complaining on the radio about working 12-hour shifts and they think “Kwitcherbitchin and take that time-and-a-half” and don’t realize that for most of the working class overtime pay is stacked in the back stockroom next to the unicorn eggs and hens’ teeth.
    Granted, some of them are so sunk in tribalism that as soon as a Democrat is for it they’re against it– but a lot of them would see that as a return to the way things were in their youth, which by definition is The Way Things Ought To Be. It makes them dangerous opponents on civil rights, but it should make them allies on this issue.

  72. 72
    Kay says:

    @BubbaDave:

    They don’t understand how much the rules changed in the last 35 years to screw the workers.

    Completely agree. Just the whole “temp” realm is news to them. They also don’t understand what a false promise the “incentive” based compensation theme is. I have to tell them “no one ever gets the bonus because no one ever makes ‘perfect-perfect’ attendance” (one of the scams that is used here is attendance based bonuses that never get paid). They bought it all when Reagan sold it and then it never affected them. They never checked back to see how this grand experiment was going.

  73. 73
    Corner Stone says:

    @Enhanced Voting Techniques: I think they’ll reinforce the “thankful to have a job to go to” narrative.
    “Suck it up, you whiners. And do what it takes to get the job done. Don’t be afraid of a little hard work!”
    That’s where I think this will come down. Anyone complaining about overtime just doesn’t want to work as hard as others if they were given the chance.
    It’s the essential scab worker shaming/threat.

  74. 74
    Corner Stone says:

    YES!!! PICK SIX TEXANS!!

  75. 75
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tokyokie:

    Okay, now it’s sounding like your wife’s boss is specifically targeting her since the other salaried person is getting all of her vacation days. It may be time for her to update her resume and look for a new office where they’re not specifically trying to screw her.

  76. 76
    Corner Stone says:

    It’s all just wage theft. Just like the Amazon case recently where a company that contracted to Amazon didn’t pay employees for mandated security screening.

  77. 77
    Corner Stone says:

    Oh, Kate Upton. I *do* want to come and play.

  78. 78
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I absolutely do remember when GWB fucked everyone with overtime but the sad thing was, he only made legal what had been going on under the table for years, declaring front line, but technical, workers “supervisors”.

    This happened because white collar – government and private – workers in the past didn’t need a union but in the 1980s the corporate raiders came in and they only wanted a short-term profit. They didn’t care what the blue or white collars were doing for the company. White collar professionals lost their jobs across the board, some due to technology but more because the owners figured out that announcing layoffs was good for a short-term stock boost and ST is all you need when you’re paid in options.

    Anybody starting to conclude now that transaction tax might be a damn good idea in stocks, options, and commodities? Nod your head.

    But since white collar – ha ha almost said white, but a lot of them were white, sadly if you weren’t white you probably got laid off FIRST, rehired LAST – were all competing for shrinking jobs there was no solidarity. And it was a 30 year period of extreme difficulty organizing new union locals.

    Look at EA in California. EA needs a fucking union. Do you know in the early 80s in California the tech companies opposed commuter trains (which ended up coming in anyway) because they feared employees would be all “Hey, boss, 6pm train, gotta go!”?

  79. 79
    PIGL says:

    @geg6: But we’re “professionals”, don’t you see? Above all that, with the prestige and respect and job security and pensions. Oh, wait.

  80. 80
    mikefromArlington says:

    TBH….after years of working as a contractor with Govnt organizations, I can safely say I do not support overtime of Federal employees.

    I’m noticing the plurality of them that are there don’t do much except cause excess roadblocks on those of us that do want to get something done and have zero repercussions for not doing a god damn thing.

    If they motivated the non-workers there would be no need for overtime.

    Another reason is so many times I find myself protecting my employees from a bunch of self important pricks that think because my folks are contractors they can be treated like shit. Again, there is no accountability for this.

    The whole I’m serving my country mentality government workers seem to have is a crock of shit. They are there to get a steady paycheck, ridiculous perks, no chance of ever getting fired, no need to ever learn anything but continue to get promotions and pass of any sort of real work to contracting staff they treat like dirt.

    No thanks.

  81. 81
    BubbaDave says:

    If they motivated the non-workers there would be no need for overtime

    Speaking as someone who manages people, one of the advantages of dealing with workers who get paid overtime is that I have a way to keep track of who isn’t getting it done in 40 hours. At that point, I have to figure out if the problem is that expectations are too high, effort is too low, we have a process problem, we need some new equipment to help them get it done, or maybe it’s just a crazy week and some OT is inevitable — but the point is, overtime is a signal that helps me to understand what’s going on and try to keep ahead of burnout.

    Granted, there are a lot of managers who will ignore signals, but if you’re trying to do your job right as a manager, there’s a lot of value to you and to your organization in being able to see when employees go over 40 hours. Plus, you know, paying more for more work is the right thing to do….

  82. 82
    Corner Stone says:

    @mikefromArlington: Woo-hoo!
    This is great Mike The Contractor.
    Thanks for your perspective!

  83. 83
    Mnemosyne says:

    @mikefromArlington:

    From their POV, your contractors have stolen what used to be good-paying, union-protected government jobs away from government workers. It may not be the contractors’ fault, or even your company’s fault, but that’s what happened. I don’t entirely blame them for not wanting to cooperate in letting your company convert even more of their jobs into low-paid, unprotected contract positions.

  84. 84
    Corner Stone says:

    @mikefromArlington:

    If they motivated the non-workers there would be no need for overtime.

    More correctly, there should be no need for private contractor jobs to the federal govt. It’s a usurpation of the commonweal to private hands.
    Tell us, do people who “do want to get something done” turn down overtime?

  85. 85
    Corner Stone says:

    This is the whole fucking problem. The whole crab bucket bullshit, right here.
    This is where they got us nailed.

  86. 86
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @mikefromArlington: Interesting perspective.

    One hears stories about contractors featherbedding too, of course…

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  87. 87
    Ruckus says:

    @Kay:
    It works the same in higher education.
    Had a friend who doesn’t understand how some one can be $100,000 in debt to go to college, she got her 4 yr degree at a CA school decades ago and had no idea that the cost of school is wildly higher than when she went. As we get older most of us have no idea what being a teen or twenty something is like today. We don’t associate much with them and if we are 60ish even our kids had life pretty much the same as us. The changes don’t register because they don’t affect us. We aren’t necessarily misinformed we, as a group, are uninformed. Willfully in many cases if you listen to the major media. If you are retired you worry about Medicare, SS and your pension, if you are so lucky.

  88. 88
    Kay says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    When I was with the postal service, the “casuals” (part time workers who are sort of a sub-group of postal workers) used to say that “career” people treated them poorly. Since I did not treat them poorly and I supervised some of them, I attributed it to (justifiable) anger that we had better wages and benefits.

    In addition, UPS and FedEx pay the postal service for “last mile” delivery, so I’d talk to employees from both companies.

    FedEx people were miserable and complained about their job versus my job, UPS were not miserable and did not want my job. FedEx uses every trick in the book to screw their employees including the independent contractor scam and UPS does not, and UPS drivers are union members.

    Just some observations I made over some years.

  89. 89
    dance around in your bones says:

    Waaaaay back in the day I worked as a farmacy tech (delib mispell) and got time and a half for all hours worked over 40 a week.

    Which didn’t mean jack ’cause they only paid me about $8-9 an hour anyway. And the more you earned, the more got taken out in taxes. So, you were fucked no matter what.

    The poor manager had to slave away all day and alla the night, and I doubt he got paid much more than me! He was kind of a drunk, and used to come in with red red eyes every day. I liked him a lot, though.I used to tease him about his “boiling eye drops” speech – ya know, when people would come in and try to return a medication, and he’d have to explain that we could not do that – or resell the product – because who knew how the drops had been stored?

    Maybe they were in your glove compartment all day while you were out shopping?! I’d always sort of snigger, and when the customer left say “Not the boiling eye drops speech again!!??” HA!

  90. 90
    rikyrah says:

    Kay,

    you always bring the good and pertinent information. keep on telling the truth.

  91. 91

    You can’t compare pay stubs when the cretins are paying you via debit card.

  92. 92
    Debbie(aussie) says:

    Reading this is terrifying. Our current disgusting excuse for a gov’t(led by the lying prick mrrabbott) wants to bring in changes like this. The difference here is wages to salaried, if paid by the hour wages-overtime, salary-no overtime. Most people on low to middle incomes, up to $75000(on average, I think) would be wages. This of course includes the majority of Aussies. What a major cost saving exercise for the boss class.
    Gad, not only are we totally rooted, we are too stupid for words.

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