Relief, of Sorts, For the Middle Class

In reality, it’s just enforcing a bit of fairness:

The Department of Labor on Wednesday will finalize a rule extending overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans currently not eligible under federal law, boosting wages by $12 billion over the next 10 years, the White House said Tuesday evening.

The updated rule, which takes effect Dec. 1 and doubles the salary threshold below which workers automatically qualify for time-and-a-half wages to $47,476 from $23,660 a year, or from $455 to $913 a week. Hourly workers are generally guaranteed overtime pay regardless of what they make.

“We’re strengthening our overtime pay rules to make sure millions of Americans’ hard work is rewarded,” President Obama said in a statement. “If you work more than 40 hours a week, you should get paid for it or get extra time off to spend with your family and loved ones.”

One of those Americans, Obama said, is Elizabeth Paredes, a single mom from Tucson, Arizona, who works as an assistant manager at a sandwich shop. “Elizabeth sometimes worked as many as 70 hours a week,without a dime of overtime pay,” Obama said. “So Elizabeth wrote to me to say how hard it is to build a bright future for her son. And she’s not alone.”

$12 billion over ten years is real money, and could be a game changer for a lot of people.






113 replies
  1. 1
    srv says:

    Won’t make up for all the jobs shipped overseas by TPP

  2. 2
    Chip Daniels says:

    Headline in tomorrow’s cable news show:

    “What has the Liberal Elite ever done for the white working class? Coming up next- an interview with a coal miner unemployed due to Obamas War. On. Coal.”

  3. 3
    bystander says:

    This will undoubtedly result in massive job losses and an avalanche of small business bankruptcies. Thanks, Obama.

  4. 4
    maryQ says:

    I’m sitting here in the world of academic science, watching the freakout before my eyes as postdocs (vast majority of whom earn less than $47,476 and work far more than 40-hours a week) get all excited about this, and professors, who pay said post docs get all huffy about trying to reclassify postdocs or get an exemption and blah blah blah.

    But, you know, it’s OK because they are all liberals, and very moral and ethical. Not like those evil Republicans.

    I am so glad I am neither a postdoc nor a professor.

  5. 5
    Mike J says:

    It’s a great first step, but it is important to remember that when the $23,660 level was set in 1976, it had the buying power that $99,488.84 would have today, according to the CPI calculator.. So even though wev’e doubled it (and that’s good! Really!) we’re still at only half the real level congress thought it should be at.

  6. 6
    Elmo says:

    You seriously would not believe the bedwetting this is causing in the Chamber of Commerce types. I have been getting hysterical emails for months from our industry association lobbyists, rivaling the opening of the next Star Wars in breathless hype. “It’s coming! It’s definitely coming! Wait for it! Watch for it! OMG!!!eleventy!!!”

    These are the same folks, by the way, who back in February were confidently predicting Trump’s flameout, the inevitable coronation of either Jeb! or Rubio (or maybe Kasich but probably not because OMG Medicaid heresy), and the probable indictment of SHE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED. So their predictions of imminent economic catastrophe resulting from abolishing slave labor should be taken with a wee grain of salt.

  7. 7
    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    @maryQ: Academia is such a feudalistic mess. :(

  8. 8
    Mike in NC says:

    Republicans in Congress have already announced plans to block this. Big surprise, right?

  9. 9
    benw says:

    @Elmo: well, these are the same people who have been confidently predicting economic DOOM since “Obama’s Recession” crippled the end of poor, honest George W. Bush’s presidency. In fact, they are the same people who have been promising magical trickle-down rainbows during Reagan/Bush and W, only to have a Democratic president fix up their resulting economic mess each time.

    Oh, and THANKS OBAMA

  10. 10

    @maryQ: Fuck academia for producing a glut of PhDs and then paying them a pittance.

  11. 11
    WJS says:

    It’s a tremendous economic stimulus package, which is about all we can hope for given the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress.

    You know what else helps working people? Low gas prices. Having health care. Not being afraid of bankruptcy because of Obamacare. And fuck whoever else is in the way of it all.

    Despite every single thing thrown at this president, he still finds a way to do the right thing for the American people. Fuck them if they don’t realize how good they have it.

  12. 12
    maryQ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: I’m with you.

  13. 13
    maryQ says:

    @Thoroughly Pizzled: That doesn’t even begin….

  14. 14
    starscream says:

    @Chip Daniels: Cable news? Some Sanders voter will be by soon to post that exact thing.

  15. 15
    Anonymous At Work says:

    @bystander: Actually, it will kill OT for the newly-qualified and will result in businesses classifying “assistant temporary managers” downward since the exemption rules are no longer easy to avoid. However, it will result in both a massive hiring boost and wage boost because businesses who worked employees 80 hours a week cannot, making it cheaper to simply hire 2 employees.

  16. 16
    Mike J says:

    @Mike J: And I’d like to make clear I don’t blame Obama for not raising it to $100k in the first go. It’s a big round number that sounds scary. He got as much done as he could, and I have nothing but admiration for that. He’s actually improved the lives of millions of people and holding out for perfection would have made it impossible.

  17. 17
    Joel says:

    @maryQ: Am a postdoc, with an.. ermm.. suboptimal principal investigator. But it doesn’t matter what he thinks or feels about compensation, the department calls all the shots here. And they’re under directive (from the University) to underpay the NIH recommended paylines. The only way to get around that is to have your own grant, and I’ve already burned through my NRSA eligibility (3 years).

  18. 18
    JustRuss says:

    @Mike J: The threshold hasn’t been adjusted since 1976? That’s insane. Of course, so is calling people “managers” so you can pay them crap and exempt them from overtime.

  19. 19
    Just Some Fuckhead, Clinton Supporter says:

    I’m guessing Elizabeth Paredes will be fired, if she hasn’t already been. Thanks Obama.

  20. 20
    Joel says:

    This is relevant to the previous thread, but I figured it’s worth posting here anyways.

    Gawker gets in touch with the idiots who left those voice messages for Roberta Lange.

  21. 21
    maryQ says:

    @Joel: Sorry to say that what you describe is far too common. Our place just went through the mother of all power struggles getting compliance with the NIH minimum which, by the way, is mandated by the Department of Labor. It was stunning to watch. It basically me down to “are we are are we not going to follow federal law”. Wow.
    I think there are rough times ahead in academia as the meaning of the new overtime standards become clarified. I expect to see hard lobbying for an exemption. On the one hand, compliance will cause wide-spread destabilization of many institutions. On the other hand, the model is fundamentally broken, and the new law really may force several issues that need to be forced. Really need to be forced.
    I guess what I would like to see is the brain trust at the friggin’ NIH figure out how to gradually reform the model so that compliance without massive destabilization becomes possible. Not holding my breath.
    Meanwhile, I spend a lot f time talking with my therapist, my career coach, and my minister about how I can continue to prop up such a dysfunctional system.

  22. 22
  23. 23

    @maryQ:
    The whole academic system has been corrupted by the exploitation of cheap grad student and postdoc labor. Both of those positions are at least notionally training positions, but they’re now the vast majority of the labor force in academic research. What used to be a process where people would take 3-4 years to get a doctorate and then take a postdoc only if they needed specific additional training has degenerated into one where they’re milked for 6-7 years of work as grad students and another 6-7 as postdocs before they’re given any kind of shot at a tenure track position- and that’s a poor one. The whole system needs to be re-thought from the ground up.

  24. 24
    Butch says:

    Since my company was purchased a few years ago it’s been the classic race to the bottom. One of management’s bright ideas was to convert most of us to part-time, not realizing that in the process they were switching us from exempt to non-exempt labor – in plain English, we can now collect overtime. The howling from management should you actually bill any overtime can be heard on Neptune and since we’re now hourly the even better result is that we’re limited to 40 hours a week. (We submit timesheets that bill our hours by contract and it’s audited so 40 hours really has to be 40 hours, not 45 or 50.)

  25. 25

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Fuck academia for producing a glut of PhDs and then paying them a pittance.

    It’s precisely because they can pay them a pittance that there are so many of them. If the system were actually about teaching people and getting them ready for jobs, there would be an incentive not to teach far more than there were jobs for. In practice, though, the goal is to exploit them for cheap labor, so the goal is to get as many as possible and to hell with the PhD job market.

  26. 26
    maryQ says:

    @Roger Moore: I could not agree more.
    Also, don’t forget the exploitation of adjuncts. This was long thought to be a humanities issue, but it is taking off in the sciences as well. Cheaply employing the surplus PhDs to do the teaching and advising and letter-of-rec writing and general undergrad hand-holding frees up faculty to get more grant money, to pay more graduate students and postdocs. It also leads to the elimination of tenure-track jobs, as lines of retiring faculty and faculty denied tenure through the now insane productivity “standards” are not retained, but rather replaced by a small army of adjuncts. This of course allows for expansion in undergrad enrollment (read: tuition revenue) without increasing the cost of instruction.

  27. 27
    maryQ says:

    @Roger Moore: You seem to understand this very well.

  28. 28
    smith says:

    @Roger Moore: And then move on to adjunct positions as that fabled tenure track job fades ever more faintly into the distance.

  29. 29
    EZSmirkzz says:

    Not to mention the multipliers and velocity.

    It’s like 2009 again. Positive feedback loops piss off the conservatives who wish to keep everyone broke, angry, scared and thus more conservative.

  30. 30
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Mike J: Speaking of scary round numbers, the really ridiculous thing is that people earning above $47,476 can still get paid $0 for each hour of overtime. I don’t know whether the Department of Labor can do this, or whether it would take Congressional action, but ISTM that people making above the $47,476 cutoff should be paid for their OT at the higher of (a) their base pay, or (b) the OT rate for persons earning exactly the cutoff.

    Nobody should ever have to work for $0. Ever.

  31. 31
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Obama’s done more for the actual working people of this nation than any president has in my entire working life. Probably my entire life period. This particular rule won’t affect me, but I was “working poor” for most of my life, and if you have a soul and any decency at all you don’t forget how much it sucks, and how much any little pittance matters. And this is considerably more than a pittance.

    So, from me to him, sincerely: Thanks, Obama.

  32. 32

    @Roger Moore: Some of the big state universities have incoming classes of 100 PhD students.

  33. 33
    Mike J says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Clinton Supporter:

    I’m guessing Elizabeth Paredes will be fired, if she hasn’t already been.

    If she’s working 70 hours a week, her employer will need to pay her as if she worked 85 hours. It will be cheaper for her employer to hire a second full time worker. If her employer is smart, her take home pay is probably going to stay the same, but she’s going to have an extra 30 hours a week to spend with her kids or tidy the house or sleep.

  34. 34
    smith says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    Nobody should ever have to work for $0. Ever.

    Working OT for $0 is pretty much a signifier of middle class life. It certainly was for me for about 40 years.

  35. 35
    maryQ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It’s not the size of the class that should be at issue, but rather the quality of the program. In some ways, it makes sense to have large programs at well-resourced institutions. Such places can provide exceptional training environments. The problem is that often they don’t. And there are way too many of them.

    NIH has refused to do anything to control program quality and labor supply. They have made the problem worse by allowing funding of training through individual research grants, with NO accountability for the quality of the training.

    They have created the pickle that we are in. Universities have seen dollar signs and jumped right ton board. It’s disgusting, really. A perversion of what education is supposed to be.

    We seem to have hijacked this thread on an otherwise upbeat topic. Sorry, BJ community.

  36. 36
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @Mike in NC:

    Republicans in Congress have already announced plans to block this. Big surprise, right?

    Make them try. It’s an election year and this is $$ in middle class bank accounts. I’m gleefully awaiting the contortions they’ll have to go through trying to stop it.

  37. 37
    gene108 says:

    @maryQ:

    I’m sitting here in the world of academic science, watching the freakout before my eyes as postdocs (vast majority of whom earn less than $47,476 and work far more than 40-hours a week) get all excited about this, and professors, who pay said post docs get all huffy about trying to reclassify postdocs or get an exemption and blah blah blah.

    But, you know, it’s OK because they are all liberals, and very moral and ethical. Not like those evil Republicans.

    I am so glad I am neither a postdoc nor a professor.

    If there was more funding for the sciences, it would not be an issue to pay the post-docs more. I don’t think, though I’m not in academia, that professors skim grant money into their own pockets.

    I think the problem is insufficient resources to fund all the people, who want to do research.

  38. 38
    Capri says:

    @smith: I’m with you.When I started my job (which is tenure track at a University, but in a specialized enough field that there isn’t a glut) I was told, “Your job is what you do from 8-5 every day. Your career is what you do from 8-11 at the kitchen table.”

    At least they were honest about it going in. Nobody pretending that putting in a solid day’s work was enough to get promoted.

  39. 39
    p.a. says:

    Vz strike update: Mass & RI strikers qualify for unemployment ins. as states decide Vz not bargaining in good faith. (This is 3rd week they’re getting checks). NY denied as the union tried to claim lockout, BUT they collect after 50 days anyway thanks to possibly the last surviving New Deal labor law left at the state level.

    2 strikers struck by scab worker vehicles (not working managers). Both scabs arrested; one for driving with a suspended license, the other for drunk driving. Scum Vz pr hacks issued statement claiming struck strikers were too close, causing unsafe situation.

    30 managers sent from Pvd call center to ‘Cuse call ctr (Pvd picketers scared them) get food poisoning from company contracted caterer at ‘Thanks for Coming’ meal; 12+ needed hospitalization.

  40. 40

    @maryQ:
    I don’t see as much of the exploitation of adjuncts because my institution doesn’t have them. I certainly see exploitation of grad students and postdocs, though. I think the long-term solution is to build research organizations that depend primarily on reasonably paid long-term staff rather than people who are nominally in training positions. That would simultaneously reduce the incentive to train too many people and provide real jobs for the ones who can’t get (or don’t want the stress of) tenure-track positions. The only problem is that the unit labor costs would be higher because you’ll have to pay your workers like highly educated employees instead of disposable trainees. I’m not sure, though, that it would increase overall costs that much, since I bet those PhDs with 20 years of experience will be more productive than new-fledged postdocs.

  41. 41
    Elmo says:

    @low-tech cyclist: Are you proposing abolishing salaries altogether? If so I’m agin’ it. I’m a salaried employee, which means that I work for a set number of dollars per year, divided up into 26 biweekly installments. That means that when I don’t work I get paid, and when I work 30 hours in a week I get paid, and when I work 80 hours in a single week I still get paid, all the same amount. I like it just fine that way.

  42. 42

    @maryQ: Really? Don’t you think 100+ PhD students in one department is a bit much?

  43. 43
    maryQ says:

    @gene108: Wrong, wrong wrong. We had more funding, and we created the problems that we now have. ‘Professors” aren’t the problem, or at least not a bi part of it. The problem is that universities empty people that they don’t really pay. These employees are paid from research grants. Faculty are under pressure to produce research, and they are generally paying anywhere form 25%-100% of their own salary from those grants, plus they are paying overhead (indirect costs) to the university, who then goes and builds an big shiny science new building, and can use the debt service on the shiny new science building to negotiate a higher indirect cost rate from the NIH. So what that means is that hug amounts of those research grants do not actually go into paying students and postdocs-they go into paying the university to build new buildings and “empty” people for free, and they go into buying infrastructure to support the research mission of the university. Paying a postdoc another few thousand is peanuts compared to what the money really goes for.

    We don’t need more funding. We need better funding stewardship.

    The answer to every single questions is NOT just give us more money.

    These people have been patently irresponsible with public money.

  44. 44
    maryQ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It depends on the capacity of the institution to provide good training.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Immanentize says:

    @Roger Moore:

    The whole academic system has been corrupted by the exploitation of cheap grad student and postdoc labor.

    At R1 schools — those with the most cash — that is THE model. It is THE feature, not a bug. Faculty members often slip easily back to the “well I had to go through this crap process and I didn’y whine about it” to validate their exploitation. Similar to: “well in the ’70’s and ’80’s, we got to sleep with our students and they survived — what’s the problem?”

  47. 47

    @maryQ: I think an incoming class of 100+ PhD is too large, especially considering that there is no demand for them after they graduate.

  48. 48
    different-church-lady says:

    You left off the “OBAMA IS WORSE THAN BUSH HE SOLD US OUT” tag

  49. 49
    Immanentize says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I don’t see as much of the exploitation of adjuncts because my institution doesn’t have them.

    Where do you work? the average for contingent faculty use nationwide is around 70% — and that does not include grad student teaching. I worked on our school’s CBA for adjuncts — we were amazingly low on the adjunct teaching % at about 55%. Recently, we have been converting adjuncts to full time non-tenure track lecturers at a 4 to 1 ratio. And even with benefits, etc. it is proving to be worth it because they increase institutional familiarity and are better teachers for it.

  50. 50
    maryQ says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: It’s only too large if _everyone_ has a class of 100, or if they actually suck at training or can’t requite top quality trainees. If we put some quality control into training programs, there would be WAY fewer. A few large programs would better take advantage of economies of scale.

    We need to focus on quality not numbers. And, we need to get a room because we’ve gone way off topic.

  51. 51
    scav says:

    In case there are any people really needing a brief giggle about what mass movements can appear out of nowhere and accomplish, here’s a nibble: don’t anger cooks. Knitters memorably took on the Olympics while cooks took on the BBC.

  52. 52
    oldgold says:

    Generally speaking, I agree with this action. BUT, an increase of this magnitude should have been staggered over several years. Some businesses and/or their employees are going to hurt by the way this is being implemented.

  53. 53
    maryQ says:

    @Immanentize: I’m thinking Roger Moore works at a medical center/med school. I’m starting to think he works at my place, except that I know that there are many places that suffer from the same dysfunction.

  54. 54
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mike J: DING DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER.

    The point of overtime pay isn’t raising incomes — the point of overtime pay is to discourage employers from destroying their employees through overwork.

  55. 55
    Immanentize says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: 100 PhDs in one department? — or across the institution? the trend is that a Bachelor degree is absolutely necessary, Doctorates are still valuable, but the masters degree is losing its value in the face of increased competency-based credentialing in various industries.

  56. 56
    Immanentize says:

    @maryQ: Ahhh! I was wondering how the overtime rules are going to impact residents….

  57. 57
    sherparick says:

    @Mike in NC: Again, this is clearly another item where they will huff, and puff, and then file a lawsuit before Federalist Society Judge appointed during the Dubya administration to block it. It would be very nice if they could get Garland on the court and if Clinton is elected Kennedy decides to retire after 30 years on the court. If there is a Democratic majority in the Senate, I would hope Breyer and Ginsburg give Hilary the opportunity to appoint replacements and then we would have 15 years of liberal court to reverse 30 years of crap wrought by the Rehnquist and Roberts courts.

  58. 58
    Immanentize says:

    @maryQ: I’m at an urban, mid-sized comprehensive with only 1 PhD program. Quite a different beast.

  59. 59
    maryQ says:

    @Immanentize: Residents are exempt.

  60. 60

    @Immanentize: One department, Chemistry.

  61. 61
    Kay says:

    The exemptions to certain provisions of the fair labor standards act are interesting.
    You’ll see the hard work of lobbyists in some of these :)

    Salesmen, partsmen and mechanics employed by automobile dealerships are exempt from the overtime pay provisions of the FLSA. You may also wish to review the applicable regulation.

    I can see salesmen because commission sales are exempt but why mechanics and parts?

  62. 62
    🌷 Martin says:

    @maryQ: Yeah, that’s pretty much correct. I will note that (at least here) we have a pretty good firewall between the source and the spending destination (research-research, instruction-instruction, etc). That said, you always have a growth decision to make – do we take that research money and build infrastructure, or do we support the work already being done, and as you note almost everyone prioritizes infrastructure, which if course increases your capacity and therefore your carry (which is negative – you need to maintain that space, light it, heat it, etc). So universities are in this cycle of constant expansion. If you build infrastructure you will find a way to use it (no matter how trivial) and then will need to seek an ongoing way to fund it. It’s a purely inflationary system, yet the dollars going into research are bound by a whole other set of realities which leads to a zero-sum approach. We sustain our growth by co-opting from other institutions, starving them. In the grand scheme it’s counterproductive, and the sacrifice of this approach is the marginal cost elements – mostly postdocs, technicians, etc. which are not seen as growth drivers and therefore undeserving of investment.

    However, the incentives are aligned to produce this outcome, so everyone plays the game. We need a different set of incentives.

  63. 63
    Immanentize says:

    @sherparick: I think Kennedy is ready to retire. I really thought he would last term. he isn’t enjoying it much anymore. But then I remember Justice White — total jerk on my issues, appointed by Kennedy, he was clearly ready to go in the mid 80’s but he did hang on until a democrat was elected (Clinton) and then he retired. Best decision he ever issued.

  64. 64

    @Mike J:

    If her employer is smart, her take home pay is probably going to stay the same, but she’s going to have an extra 30 hours a week to spend with her kids or tidy the house or sleep.

    And her employer will then be shocked to discover that she gets at least as much done in a 40 hour week as she used to do in a 70 hour week. People seem to have forgotten, but a huge reason employers eventually agreed to 40 hour weeks is because the evidence showed that people lost productivity when they worked more than that. Even in the short term, 70 hour weeks don’t get a lot of extra work out of people, and in the longer term they burn people out to the point that they get less done than they would shorter hours. This has been studied extensively, and people who think they’re getting something by demanding long hours are fooling themselves.

  65. 65
    Immanentize says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Wow. I don’t think industry is looking for that many chemistry PhD’s and there are certainly not enough jobs in the academy to help those folks out (because we can stay where we are forever!). What do they end up doing? Post-docs and then basic research lab work?

  66. 66
    JustRuss says:

    @oldgold: Oh boo-hoo. If your business model is based on forcing people to work for free, it’s a crappy model. The rule doesn’t go into effect for 6 months, that should be enough time for most businesses to figure this out.

  67. 67
    Immanentize says:

    @🌷 Martin: For the last few years, I have been seeing a shift in NSF granting from individual star researchers or labs to collaborations across institutions. I think that will be part of a future that might help address some of your very real concerns — except at the biggest institutions.

  68. 68
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    @different-church-lady:
    I wouldn’t do my job without OT pay. They told me it would be 50 hours a week. Over the last 4 years I’ve averaged 58. That’s 18 hours/week at 1.5X pay, or about 66% on top of base. That’s my mortgage and utilities. If I couldn’t get the extra it wouldn’t be worth it.

  69. 69
    gene108 says:

    @Kay:

    I can see salesmen because commission sales are exempt but why mechanics and parts?

    I don’t know about parts departments, but I believe mechanics get paid by the job/hour, i.e. when a dealership charges you 1 hour of labor, they pay the mechanic for 1 hour of labor, even if he gets the job done in 45 minutes.

    I think that creates a system, where a very efficient mechanic can work well over 40 job/hours per week.

  70. 70
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Mike J: For far too many people $100k is “a lot of money” and translates to something like “rich people”. Never mind the CoCsvckers, that jump won’t fly with libprogs either the first time around. It doesn’t matter that if mean wages had kept up the pace from the ’70s workers would be making more than that, or that it offsets the obscene compensation at the F1K C-level; round numbers like that are up there with the mythical “million-dollar home” (which in half of metro DC is a basic four bedroom house with a two car garage) in too many minds for that to be accomplished in one step.

  71. 71

    @Immanentize:

    Faculty members often slip easily back to the “well I had to go through this crap process and I didn’y whine about it” to validate their exploitation.

    And it’s bullshit when they do it, too. The whole process has been getting worse and worse for the students. It used to be that you could get a PhD in 4 years and jump straight to a tenure-track position; postdocs were optional if you needed some additional specialized training. Over time, the number of years to get through grad school has gradually increased, and postdocs have gone from being something optional to being mandatory to being mandatory to do more than one. It used to be normal to have tenure by the time you were 30, and now you’re moving quickly if you have it by 40.

    And the number of tenure-track jobs relative to the number of people wanting to fill them has also changed. Back in the early 1960s, universities were growing so fast that practically anyone with a PhD who wanted a tenure-track job was given a shot at one. That’s gradually gotten worse and worse, so that now tenure-track jobs are few and far between, and people who want them are getting pushed into non-tenure-track positions (adjuncts or research professorships) to prove they can hack it before being given a real shot at a tenure-track job.

  72. 72
    Kay says:

    It amazes me that Republicans now oppose overtime and get away with it.

    I mean, honestly. What nerve. I’d love to see Paul Ryan’s total work hours over a year. Lunching with donors doesn’t count.

  73. 73
    Kay says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    or about 66% on top of base

    It’ll be interesting to see what happens when that sinks in. The people who get it know how big a deal it can be, but the people who don’t get it simply don’t think about it. Partly it’ll be informing them of what they really should have been getting.

  74. 74

    @Immanentize:

    Where do you work?

    I work at a hospital-affiliated research institute that has a small graduate program but no undergraduates. It’s actually a bit closer to what I think academic research should look like than most traditional schools. We actually have more tenure-track faculty than graduate students, and a substantial fraction of our research staff is regular employees (both PhD and BS/MS). It’s still obvious that the graduate student and postdoc situation is exploitative, but if every institution had our ratio of trainees to regular employees the situation would be a lot better.

  75. 75
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Immanentize: Yeah, I’m seeing the same thing. I think that’s a good trend. There needs to be more, however. Among the biggest problems I see locally is that there is a pervasive refusal to treat the university as a business, which comes from a good place, but means that we often fail to institute basic cost checks and plan adequately. I’ve seen a few grants come through that we should have denied as it was clear they would cost us more than we’d get, mostly due to our inability to properly allocate costs. Imagine how many institutions would re-evaluate their grants if research space needed to be leased. We’re budgeting between $500 and $2000/sq ft for non-committed research space. I can point to several specific spaces at $20K/sq ft. Its one thing to cover that initial cost out of a grant, but you know that will need to be maintained and refurbished even after the grant ends. What then?

  76. 76
    Immanentize says:

    @Roger Moore: I agree! But the faculty at almost every institution is definitely greying. Many were hired in the 80’s when almost every institution was expanding. In one of our schools the average faculty age is 66. And as one of my old colleagues once said at a faculty meeting, “You cannot repeal the actuary tables.” Still, although there will a big need for new faculty over the coming years, I am not sure many of those positions will be tenure track.

  77. 77
    Immanentize says:

    @Roger Moore: I totally agree…. It sounds like rather a nice place.

  78. 78
    Jeffro says:

    @WJS:

    It’s a tremendous economic stimulus package, which is about all we can hope for given the obstructionism of the Republicans in Congress.

    You know what else helps working people? Low gas prices. Having health care. Not being afraid of bankruptcy because of Obamacare. And fuck whoever else is in the way of it all.

    Amen and keep it going: there’s other things that Dems support that help working people
    – us not getting involved in stupid wars that cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars
    – taking action now on climate change
    – fighting potential epidemics like ebola and zika

  79. 79
    Linnaeus says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Frank Donoghue, in his book The Last Professors, wrote that Ph.D.s are actually a waste product of graduate education, because colleges and universities no longer care about what happens to them – the real value of graduate students (and some undergrads as well) to the institution is in their labor.

  80. 80
    Jeffro says:

    @Kay:

    It amazes me that Republicans now oppose overtime and get away with it.

    It’s amazing how in their minds, big CEO pay packages have no chance of ‘wrecking the economy’, but paying overtime sure will.

    But at least they’re consistent: they think to motivate CEOs you have to pay them ever-increasing amounts; to motivate workers, you need to pay them less.

  81. 81
    Linnaeus says:

    @Kay:

    Workers should be thankful their lords employers have granted them a job. Hell, they should be paying to have one!

  82. 82
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Kay:

    I can see salesmen because commission sales are exempt but why mechanics and parts?

    Key is ‘automotive dealerships’. Dealerships are generally protected through regulatory structures, thanks to strong lobbying. Dealerships are hanging by a thread right now with transparent pricing and online sales. They make their money through their service departments, not sales. This allows dealerships to stiff their mechanics to make them more price competitive with non-dealership service.

    Since I’m so readily accused of being a neolliberal, I’ll point out here that the lobbyists that got states to adopt laws requiring auto sales to go through dealerships are using the very same arguments to keep those dealerships in business by screwing over the mechanics. This is the inevitable end-game of protectionist measures. This was a ‘save jobs’ effort that has turned into a ‘screw wages’ effort, all off of the same rationale. Put another way, if you put the dealership out of business, allowed for more efficient online sales, and replaced it with an independent service center, the mechanics would fall back under the OT rules, consumers would probably get better prices, and automakers would lose part of their incentive to keep making high-recurring cost vehicles (because they know that the service revenue is key to dealership survival).

  83. 83
    Linnaeus says:

    @maryQ:

    This was long thought to be a humanities issue, but it is taking off in the sciences as well. Cheaply employing the surplus PhDs to do the teaching and advising and letter-of-rec writing and general undergrad hand-holding frees up faculty to get more grant money, to pay more graduate students and postdocs

    I saw this happening when I worked in the sciences in academic institutions 20 years ago. I had recently graduated with my BS degree, and I was competing against Ph.D.s for entry-level research assistant jobs.

  84. 84
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Mike J:

    If she’s working 70 hours a week, her employer will need to pay her as if she worked 85 hours. It will be cheaper for her employer to hire a second full time worker.

    Unfortunately, it won’t be. Employer isn’t paying more for benefits for an OT employee, and those are generally 33% or more of the cost of an employee. You probably need to hit close to 100 hours (80 to employee) for it to clearly tip over.

    I will note that single payer would go a long way to changing the math on that, since employers would not be incentivized to keep headcount low as presumably single payer would come out as a payroll tax and scale with the number of hours, unlike a group policy which is based on headcount. That’s probably one of the bigger omissions from ACA – not requiring group policies to scale in cost based on hours work (presumably overworked employees carry higher health costs). That move alone would have knocked out a lot of overtime incentives, and probably would have caused a number of employers to drop their group polices and send workers to the exchanges along with a raise. That would have helped the exchanges (though it would have been a pretty mixed bag for the employees).

  85. 85
    Brachiator says:

    @bystander:

    This will undoubtedly result in massive job losses and an avalanche of small business bankruptcies.

    Not massive job losses, but job losses, definitely. Companies that can will move to lower wage states. States like Texas will be working harder to get more businesses to relocate (and it is easier to get rid of pesky employees who ask for too much, like decent earnings).

    Fast food places like Wendy’s are experimenting with more automation and with self-service kiosks that will allow them to eliminate employees. Look for more of this in the future. And businesses that can do so will make more employees part time.

    I can easily agree that these new policies are more fair. But I have also seen over the past 20 years in California that rules like this have helped kill jobs and force out businesses. I have friends who say, “hell, good riddance. If a company can’t pay its people fairly, they deserve to go out of business.” This is fine. The only problem is that new businesses do not come in to pick up the slack.

    There needs to be more creativity and flexibility. If an employer cannot afford the increases wages, maybe they can make up for it with better benefits, time off and other perks.

  86. 86
    amygdala says:

    @maryQ: Residents aren’t in the bind that grad students are these days. The vast majority of MDs and DOs who complete residency/fellowship will be able to practice. There may be a bottleneck in residency programs soon, due to expansion of med school classes and opening new med schools, but that’s a different problem. Graduating so many PhDs, in an era of adjuncts and tight research budgets, means that even after a couple of post-docs, a young scholar may not be able to find any job requiring all that training, much less a tenure-track faculty position.

  87. 87
    slag says:

    @Brachiator: The problem we have is that we desperately need a mechanism to get more wage parity. At some point, a lot of the money being hoovered up by the top brass needs to make its way back down the pay scale. There’s no law that says that CEOs need to make 300 times what their average employee makes. I don’t see what other mechanism, beyond these kinds of basic measures, government can employ to try to shrink wage disparity.

  88. 88
    🌷 Martin says:

    @maryQ:

    This was long thought to be a humanities issue, but it is taking off in the sciences as well. Cheaply employing the surplus PhDs to do the teaching and advising and letter-of-rec writing and general undergrad hand-holding frees up faculty to get more grant money, to pay more graduate students and postdocs. It also leads to the elimination of tenure-track jobs, as lines of retiring faculty and faculty denied tenure through the now insane productivity “standards” are not retained, but rather replaced by a small army of adjuncts. This of course allows for expansion in undergrad enrollment (read: tuition revenue) without increasing the cost of instruction.

    That’s not at all what we’re seeing here. UC is creating a ‘Professor of Teaching’ parallel tenure-track line so that PhDs can be hired into full faculty positions but with a different set of responsibilities. Basically their research commitment is reduced and is focused on education research, and their teaching load is doubled. That way you get roughly double the instructional output compared to an existing faculty position, but they aren’t stripped of their tenure rights, etc. We still have a small army of adjuncts but the expectation is that they will reduce in number.

    One thing that isn’t being spoken of openly is that there is probably more money for the institution to be had in alternative educational programs (self-supporting professional degrees, etc.) than there is in research grants, and you’re seeing a little bit of that showing through in this pivot. I think there is an acknowledgement that the demand for research is not keeping pace with the demand for teaching, and that the old model of 50/50 between those is not sustainable. That was being papered over by hiring adjuncts to maintain balance, but now we’re working toward a move responsible solution.

    I’m a bit skeptical it’ll work given a pile of reasons I’m happy to go into later, but it’s at least a positive step.

  89. 89
    rikyrah says:

    uh huh
    uh huh

    Trump Unveils List of His Top Supreme Court Picks
    By JILL COLVIN, ASSOCIATED PRESS JERSEY CITY, N.J. — May 18, 2016, 2:37 PM ET

    Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he’s elected to the White House.

    Trump’s picks include Steven Colloton of Iowa, Allison Eid of Colorado and Raymond Gruender of Missouri.

    Also on the list are: Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, Raymond Kethledge of Michigan, Joan Larsen of Michigan, Thomas Lee of Utah, William Pryor of Alabama, David Stras of Minnesota, Diane Sykes of Wisconsin and Don Willett of Texas. Trump had previously named Pryor and Sykes as examples of kind of justices he would choose.

  90. 90
    🌷 Martin says:

    @slag: The only solution is going to be a minimum living wage. The problem isn’t the CEOs. The problem is that the wages are actually being captured through massively increased productivity which is captured as profits and passed along to investors (which is really why the CEO makes so much – through their stock).

    We think of labor as needing to be taxed to pay for social services, but we don’t tax non-human labor. We need to. We need robots and computers to pay payroll taxes and the like and that money dumped into the safety net.

  91. 91
    amygdala says:

    @🌷 Martin:

    That’s not at all what we’re seeing here. UC is creating a ‘Professor of Teaching’ parallel tenure-track line so that PhDs can be hired into full faculty positions but with a different set of responsibilities. Basically their research commitment is reduced and is focused on education research, and their teaching load is doubled.

    Interesting. Where will the salary support for teaching faculty come from?

  92. 92
  93. 93
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Brachiator:

    But I have also seen over the past 20 years in California that rules like this have helped kill jobs and force out businesses.

    Have you not also noticed that those businesses get replaced with different ones, though? Sure, the shitty donut shop goes under but a hipster $3 donut shop arrives, and sure, the donuts are 6x more expensive, but they’re also 6x better and they actually succeed.

    What I’ve seen is generic businesses leaving and differentiating ones, ones that consumers are willing to pay more for because they value the product more, replacing them and doing better. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t cry when In-N-Out which pays well and provides benefits knocks out a McDonalds. I don’t know anyone else who does either.

  94. 94
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike in NC:

    What’s their plan, to hold their breath until they turn blue? Any legislation they managed to pass would be vetoed by the president, and they don’t have the votes to override a veto.

    (My fellow Hamimaniacs are welcome to picture Daveed Diggs’s mocking laugh to accompany “you don’t have the votes”)

  95. 95

    @Linnaeus:

    Frank Donoghue, in his book The Last Professors, wrote that Ph.D.s are actually a waste product of graduate education

    I hadn’t heard it expressed quite that way, but it’s more or less what I’m saying; I think everyone else who’s watched academia would agree with the basic point. Graduate students and postdocs aren’t treated as people receiving education and training; they’re treated as disposable labor.

  96. 96
    Linnaeus says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Yep – I posted that comment to support your point, because I think it’s an accurate one.

  97. 97
    Nina says:

    One of Trump’s Supreme Court picks has an anti-Trump Twitter history. @JusticeWillett

    “We’ll rebuild the Death Star. It’ll be amazing, believe me. And the rebels will pay for it.”

  98. 98
    🌷 Martin says:

    @amygdala: Well, from the state and students, and through increased instructional revenue. Some of that is out-of-state tuition (which in aggregate is higher than an in-state student with subsidy), but some will be professional degree programs that people/employers will pay a premium for because they are designed around people that work full-time. That will work for UC but probably not for a lot of other universities, and I think that will only work for so long before it’s upended.

    Basically, we’re doubling the instructional productivity of those new faculty positions against the existing funding model, and that should be enough. We’re giving up research funding on those positions, but research funding is getting hard to come by. Now, it comes at the cost of going after some kinds of broad grants that were mentioned above because these new positions will have less to offer in that capacity, but given that most government grants expect a meaningful educational component to the grant, it might work out after all. We’ll see.

  99. 99

    @Jeffro:

    But at least they’re consistent: they think to motivate CEOs you have to pay them ever-increasing amounts; to motivate workers, you need to pay them less.

    Pretty much. Their basic view is that rich people can only be motivated by rewards and poor people can only be motivated by punishments.

  100. 100
    🌷 Martin says:

    @Nina: You say that like the Death Star was a bad thing. I wouldn’t expect many Republicans to. The Death Star was a great example of Empire Exceptionalism.

  101. 101
    scav says:

    @rikyrah: That’s going to be interesting on multiple fronts. Thanks.

  102. 102
    Kay says:

    @Jeffro:

    It’s amazing how in their minds, big CEO pay packages have no chance of ‘wrecking the economy’, but paying overtime sure will.
    But at least they’re consistent: they think to motivate CEOs you have to pay them ever-increasing amounts; to motivate workers, you need to pay them less.

    It was the same thing with “uncertainty in markets” Markets can’t BEAR any uncertainty, but working people just have to roll with the punches and adapt. Thru the whole austerity craze we all had to carefully coddle markets while actual people were getting more and more terrified.

    I’m just glad Democrats are talking about wages again. No one understands transfer payments and they come from on-high – enough about the EITC and food stamps and family leave. Talk about PAY. Take home. I would have them pull up their paystub on their phone so they can follow along with me :)

  103. 103
    amygdala says:

    @🌷 Martin: Thanks. As you suggest, it could work for UC, which can leverage prestige for online degree programs. It’ll take a long time, though, to change a culture where researchers are rock stars while teachers, no matter how gifted and dedicated, are considered less worthwhile than the person staffing the merch table.

  104. 104
    slag says:

    @🌷 Martin: I’m not so sure that minimum living wage is going to do the job. Especially when it comes to dealing with the plethora of adverse political, social, and psychological effects of inequality. We’ve fetishized the “free market” for so long now, I don’t know how long it might take to come back from that.

    As re: shareholder value, I’m pretty much with this guy

    The funny thing is that this supposed imperative to “maximize” a company’s share price has no foundation in history or in law. Nor is there any empirical evidence that it makes the economy or the society better off. What began in the 1970s and ’80s as a useful corrective to self-satisfied managerial mediocrity has become a corrupting, self-interested dogma peddled by finance professors, money managers and over-compensated corporate executives.

  105. 105
    Chip Daniels says:

    @Brachiator:
    I have always wanted to ask opponents of minimum wages- “what is the proper wage, that will keep companies from automating or offshoring?”

    Given that the wage in Bangladesh is like a dollar a day, and that a robot can do it for even less, do opponents of minimum wages think that anything above that will keep our ruling class happy?

  106. 106
    Brachiator says:

    @slag:

    The problem we have is that we desperately need a mechanism to get more wage parity. At some point, a lot of the money being hoovered up by the top brass needs to make its way back down the pay scale. There’s no law that says that CEOs need to make 300 times what their average employee makes. I don’t see what other mechanism, beyond these kinds of basic measures, government can employ to try to shrink wage disparity.

    It’s not a zero sum game. The money paid to CEOs does not equal the money that could be paid to employees.

    But otherwise, issues of wage stagnation are a big problem.

  107. 107
    Brachiator says:

    @🌷 Martin: RE: But I have also seen over the past 20 years in California that rules like this have helped kill jobs and force out businesses.

    Have you not also noticed that those businesses get replaced with different ones, though? Sure, the shitty donut shop goes under but a hipster $3 donut shop arrives, and sure, the donuts are 6x more expensive, but they’re also 6x better and they actually succeed.

    No. Let’s take Pasadena and Glendale as an example. In Pasadena, an auto dealership which had been in one spot for decades is gone. There is now an empty lot that gets filled intermittently by seasonal businesses, selling Xmas trees and Halloween pumpkins. Otherwise, the revenues and sale taxes are gone, as are the auto related shops that would pick up business. The stores and eateries have declined, because there are no workers and customers to buy lunch and dinner.

    Elsewhere, some businesses have moved to cheaper locations because rents and leases are still too high. Many of these businesses fail anyway, leaving empty store fronts. There are some places that have been empty for a couple of years now.

    Sure, the shitty donut shop goes under but a hipster $3 donut shop arrives, and sure, the donuts are 6x more expensive, but they’re also 6x better and they actually succeed

    Bullshit. The higher end places are market segregated and are NOT better, certainly not 6x better. I see a few high end eateries here and there, and fast food franchises survive, but middle income shops and restaurants are dying, as are the employment they provided.

    I will grant you your point about In-N-Out, though obviously this is not a high end establishment. Also, I note that King Taco is holding a job fair and pays $10 to $25 an hour. These places have had more impact on Burger King, Carls and Jack-in-the-Box than McDonalds, although Jack is fighting back with some innovative food choices. But Jack is also experimenting again with food selection kiosks to cut labor costs.

  108. 108
    KS in MA says:

    @Linnaeus: For me, the penny dropped one afternoon maybe 10 years ago when I went into a pizzeria in my university town. I sat down to eat my slice, and I overheard the two pizza-makers discussing their students.

  109. 109
    KS in MA says:

    @rikyrah: Thanks, rikyrah–that looks like a really interesting project.

  110. 110
    dollared says:

    @Brachiator: Actually, the entire point is to make it national so Texas can’t promise to screw Texas workers in order to steal jobs from California.

    The game is won on the national level. Then what you worry about can’t happen.

  111. 111
    🌷 Martin says:

    @amygdala:

    Thanks. As you suggest, it could work for UC, which can leverage prestige for online degree programs. It’ll take a long time, though, to change a culture where researchers are rock stars while teachers, no matter how gifted and dedicated, are considered less worthwhile than the person staffing the merch table.

    Yep. Though I don’t think it will be too bad. These faculty will be full rights and privileges, voting rights, all that. That will go a long way to being treated as equals. I suspect it will work out okay, particularly if they become instrumental to landing larger grants that require substantive pedagogical components.

  112. 112
    🌷 Martin says:

    @slag:

    We’ve fetishized the “free market” for so long now, I don’t know how long it might take to come back from that.

    As re: shareholder value, I’m pretty much with this guy

    Agreed on both. It’s going to be a major realignment to how we view our place in society. All the more reason to get started as soon as possible.

  113. 113
    Pogonip says:

    @Joel: What is a postdoc? What do postdocs do?

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