A Hard Day's Work Deserves a Fair Day's Pay
July 1, 2015 8:31 AM   Subscribe

President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, announces new overtime regulations. The rule change proposed by the Department of Labor would raise the salary threshold of workers covered by overtime to $50,400, from $23,660.

"The beneficiaries would be people like Brittany Swa, 30, a former manager of a Chipotle restaurant in Denver....She had a key to the shop and could make bank deposits, but otherwise spent nearly all her time preparing orders and working the cash register. She frequently worked 60 hours a week but didn’t get overtime because she earned $36,000." [Washington Post]

"The National Retail Federation has already voiced its opposition to expanding overtime regulations to store managers and assistant managers... “The retail industry is concerned because the expected change in wage levels could bring many store managers or assistant managers under overtime rules, taking away their ability to use their own discretion in deciding whether to put in the extra hours sometimes needed to do their jobs,” the federation has said." [Buzzfeed]

The rule change does not require any action by Congress. Republicans will hate Obama’s new overtime rule, but they can’t do anything about it. [Paul Waldman, Washington Post]

Previously
posted by Asparagus (73 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good for folks that work overtime at McDonalds, that's for sure!
posted by oceanjesse at 8:32 AM on July 1, 2015


I assume this does not affect people in the overtime exempt occupation categories?
posted by Think_Long at 8:40 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I assume this does not affect people in the overtime exempt occupation categories?
Current regulations allow for employees earning a salary of $23,660 or more to be disqualified from overtime pay — considered “exempt” — if their job duties meet certain requirements. In his announcement on the Huffington Post, Obama said he plans to raise that benchmark to about $50,400 a year, qualifying millions more for overtime pay.
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 AM on July 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, as reported by Buzzfeed.

This weird new future is scarier every day.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:43 AM on July 1, 2015 [65 favorites]


Having seen it around me, it's made management shift to "no over time" policies and hiring more bodies at shorter hours. So more half-full employment, yay-ish?

It's part of a labor pot that's bubbling bubbling but into what?

Side note: I've been taking the temperature of jobs in my industry lately and they are dipping down to $50k for advertised "senior" level jobs. Guess those are all going to suddenly be bumped up to $51k. Back in the day (pre-and during the Recession if a job was even listed), mid-level started at $65k. Also, my job classification has been recently converted by court rulings to be non-exempt.
posted by tilde at 8:46 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, does the new salary metric apply to every occupation that has been previously classified as overtime-exempt? I can't tell from the articles.
posted by Think_Long at 8:46 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


As I have no idea what sort of true societal reorganizations would be required to make things fair & balanced in this country, this little stab at the darkness makes me happy.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:48 AM on July 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


Where have you been seeing this already, tilde?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 8:49 AM on July 1, 2015


I remember getting so angry when my friend, a single mother, was promoted to manager. She was on government assistance before the promotion, but the raise coupled with the lack of time to navigate what benefits she could qualify for effectively meant she was bringing home $0.10 less an hour. She no longer had the free time to be a mother. Her mother was able to step in, thankfully. Poverty wages for 50+ hours a week. Shameful.
posted by domo at 8:50 AM on July 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


"The retail industry is concerned because the expected change in wage levels could bring many store managers or assistant managers under overtime rules, taking away their ability to use their own discretion in deciding whether to put in the extra hours sometimes needed to do their jobs,” the federation has said."

Oh yuck, this is the grossest thing. No, YOU take away their discretion by threatening to fire them if they don't get work done that maybe can't reasonably be done by one person in the time allotted to them. Now you have to pay people if you put them in that situation.

This statement reflects the absurd assumption that coercion can only be done by the government but, um, no, YOU are making people work overtime by giving them more work than they can do in the time they're being paid; you don't get to whine about the employees' decreased autonomy because now you have to pay them for work you were making them do.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:55 AM on July 1, 2015 [91 favorites]


Think_Long, from my reading of this DOL FAQ, the answer to your question is workers in overtime-exempt categories will continue to be exempt, as long as their salary is above $50,400:

11. Q. What is the current salary level required to qualify for a white collar exemption?

A. Under the current regulations, a white collar employee must be paid at least $455 per week (equivalent to $23,660 annually for a full-year employee) to qualify as an exempt executive, administrative, or professional employee. An employee may qualify as an exempt computer professional if he or she is paid at least $455 per week or at least $27.63 an hour, if paid on an hourly basis.

posted by Asparagus at 8:56 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think this will probably be killed somewhere when a necessary appropriations bill is passed by the House with a rider attached that invalidates the regulation. Which is really shitty, but I'm trying to imagine a situation where that doesn't actually happen. This is long overdue, and it's ridiculous how many jobs are now shoehorned into the exempt category. I would expect that if this ever did pass, employers will probably deal by taking people off of salary, putting them on hourly, and giving them fewer hours; this will at least ensure that people don't have to work 60 hour weeks, but many people's situations are dire enough that the trade off of the extra working time for the relatively small amount of money is worth it for them. Another consequence may be that it creates more part time jobs, and that's okay, I guess, but not really great.

The reform I'd really like to see is a wholesale revision of the duties tests in the exemptions to make it much much more difficult for workers to be exempt (ie, rewriting the "administrative professional" and other categories, rather than just changing the salary test).
posted by MoonOrb at 8:57 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming that legislative employees are still exempt from this rule?

Last I checked, the House and Senate basically paid poverty-level wages to all junior staff (effectively ensuring that everybody working from Congress has another source of income)
posted by schmod at 8:58 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, more helpfully:

14. Q. What are the significant proposed changes to the overtime regulations for white collar workers?

A. To restore the effectiveness of the salary level test, the Department proposes to set the standard salary level at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time salaried workers. Using 2013 data, the proposed salary amount would equal $921 per week (which is $47,892 annually for a full-year worker). Should the Department decide after consideration of comments received on the NPRM to set the standard salary level in the final rule at the 40th percentile of weekly earnings of full-time salaried workers, the Department estimates that a 2016 level may be about $970 a week, or $50,440 a year.

posted by Asparagus at 8:58 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, as reported by Buzzfeed.

This weird new future is scarier every day.


I don't know about scary. This is just another instance of politicians using modern media outlets to get their messages out, allowing them to speak "directly" (without media re-writes and soundbites) to people on the internet through channels they already use to get news (and gossip). For instance, GOP committee celebrated harsh immigration enforcement plan in GIFs:
A Republican-led House committee is currently pushing new legislation that would potentially open up millions of undocumented immigrants to deportation, enable local police departments to enact their own immigration laws, dismantle President Obama’s executive actions and lethally arm immigration officials and agents.

And how is the committee promoting the new legislation? With a listicle, made up almost entirely of GIFs featuring women making silly gestures and dopey facial expressions.
Yes, that's a press release on judiciary.house.gov, not a fake GOP tumblr. At least Obama didn't include any reaction GIFs, instead uses an Op-Ed format, written in full sentences instead of punchy, sarcastic bullet points.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:59 AM on July 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


We've seen how companies are working around providing benefits (everyone is part-time). I can see the trend continuing after this. Management is usually not a part-time job, but I think that's simply because it's been associated with overtime exemption. We're going to have a nation of part-time workers soon.
posted by domo at 9:04 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Here's a great related article from veteran reporter Joseph Williams: My Life as a Retail Worker. (previously on the Blue).

Props to Obama. for addressing a real "middle-class" problem at its core.
posted by Dashy at 9:07 AM on July 1, 2015


We're going to have a nation of part-time workers soon.

Hurrah, the system works!

(seriously, I fully believe that is a goal of ... certain people ... and I think it's a bad thing, but I also believe that nothing will be done to prevent it from happening. Why? Well, among other things, people still buy from those companies, every single day of their lives in some cases. So it's win-win for the bastards.)
posted by aramaic at 9:08 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


In addition to raising the minimum wage, we need the minimum wage for part-time work to be set at least 1.25*FullTime.

I saw some person on the news saying how this will "backfire", because instead of paying these people overtime, businesses will hire additional workers. Isn't that what they should have been doing all along, instead of overworking their employees?
posted by fings at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2015 [33 favorites]


And don't forget uncertainty of hours in most part time jobs. You can't even pull a 'Hey Mon!' under those circumstances.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:10 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm 27--I basically have no idea how overtime works, I've been in the workforce for over a decade and I've never had a job that wasn't exempt for one reason or another. I can't think of anyone I know who gets overtime pay besides a few people I went to high school with who work in manufacturing.

I support this in theory, but I'm not sure it will work out for me, personally. This would affect both me and my partner--I think I would just not be allowed to work over 40 hours (which is great, and I usually don't anyway) but I think they might just make my bf part time again, which would suck.
posted by geegollygosh at 9:12 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nobody has to be made part-time...

Companies just need to realize that maybe 40 hours a week is enough. That's full-time employment.

If they need someone else for those other 20 hours a week they are used to getting from that employee, and they don't want to pay time-and-a-half for those hours, then you hire someone else to cover that gap. And they will need to do the math -- whether hiring a new employee to cover those new hours (and the training and other associated expenses with such a hire) will make more financial sense, or whether you just pay the person who has been working so diligently more for the service they have been devoting to your company's bottom line more.

Do we even have any stats on whether the PP-ACA (Obamacare) regulations about working more than 30 hours a week qualifies someone for insurance benefits has caused workers to be moved to 29.5 hours a week? That's the nearest equivalent "employers have to pay more for some workers than before" recent change that I can think of.
posted by hippybear at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


I feel like business/manufacturing groups should really stop playing the "we'll cut yur jobs!" card so frequently. The threat tends to lose it's efficacy when it's thrown out at every possible opportunity, especially when data will be published a few years after the fact often disproving the claim.
posted by Think_Long at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder how they'll try to exempt graduate students and postdocs. I'd bet something along the lines of "it's a stipend not a salary."
posted by penguinicity at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I assume that they'll exempt graduate students by limiting the work paid to 20 hours a week. That's how I saw it.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:31 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Doctors, lawyers, and teachers are exempt (and I assume will continue to be) regardless of pay (so, e.g. medical residents aren't paid overtime). So I assume graduate Teaching Assistants wouldn't be covered but a post-doc who isn't a teacher and has a salary below the threshold would be paid overtime.
posted by Asparagus at 9:36 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have an ex boyfriend (ex bc of his job) who routinely worked 60+ hrs/week usually 70 (he got 2 says off usually, so the other days were just very long) on an ever changing schedule.

He works in a store so the majority of this over extended work week is on his feet, wearing dress shoes because that's required, doing manual labor unpacking boxes and lifting.

Sadly he just makes over the amount to have this make an impact on his job.

At one point he was doing the work of 3 people bc his manager wouldn't hire anyone to fill those spots.

I'm glad this is a big step in the right direction bc it's just shameful to work people that way. No one should be expected to work more than 40 hrs on a regular basis. Your brain and body just stop being safe and sane at some point.
posted by sio42 at 9:38 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, as reported by Buzzfeed.

This weird new future is scarier every day.


Also, it's ironic that he's talking about this new rule to increase pay on a platform famous for compensating bloggers with exposure (something you can die from) instead of money (something you can live on).
posted by Aizkolari at 9:39 AM on July 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yeah, the university actually regards all the research done by graduate students as "for our own education" and therefore not payable work, unless you're on a Research Assistantship paid for out of a prof's grant. Once our whole listserv got an unsolicited email from a full professor about how I shouldn't whine because hour for hour, grad students' 20 hours of paid teaching time per week are more well paid than adjunct faculty, and we 'only' work twenty hours a week and get an education out of it!

So yeah, this is absolutely not applicable to us. Depressing, but there it is.
posted by sciatrix at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2015


MetaFilter: written in full sentences instead of punchy, sarcastic bullet points.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:58 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Nobody has to be made part-time...

Bullshit. We should all be "part time". Full time in the US is understood is a 45 hour committment - assuming no commute time and no overtime. Once you factor those in, you're well north of 50-60 hours, easily.

People in France are not skinny because they eat bread and cheese. They are skinny because with an extra 15-20 hours a week they have time to actually do something besides shove some Applebees drive through down their throats before heading to bed.

Had Obama did this thing back in 2009, instead of whatever bullshit Clinton Friends Geithner and Summers pulled out of their ass, the economy would have been fixed by now.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:11 AM on July 1, 2015 [20 favorites]


Why stop at covering only 40% of employees? Why not make 100% of employees non-exempt from overtime rules? If companies want employees to work longer hours, pay them for it.

Markets only work well when there is transparency and openness in contracts. Employers benefit from a situation in which there is ambiguity in how many hours a salaried employee is expected to work for a fixed salary.
posted by JackFlash at 10:36 AM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


I hear all the celebration, but I'm actually really concerned at the idea that the President can unilaterally order people to set the overtime standards differently. I mean, I know there's a Democrat in office now and everyone is saying 'yay', but what if next year it's a Republican in office and he cuts it down significantly lower or destroys overtime completely?

Expansion of Presidential Powers rarely shrinks - when they get away with something, their successors tend to get away with it and so on into perpetuity.
posted by corb at 10:51 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why stop at covering only 40% of employees? Why not make 100% of employees non-exempt from overtime rules? If companies want employees to work longer hours, pay them for it.

I'm okay with most of the jobs I've held (tech/proposal writing, management) being salaried and exempt, because it means that I can justify (to myself and my employer) going to appointments during the day and even pissing off when nothing is going on without having to punch out: "You pay me to do X. There is nothing X-related going on right now and there won't be until the X meeting at 2, so I'm gonna take a long lunch."

The more incentive you give employers to count every penny of worth they're extracting from an employee, the more they'll do it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:56 AM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Full time in the US is understood is a 45 hour committment

What are you talking about? "Full time employment" was defined as 40 hours decades ago, and anything over 40 is overtime for blue-collar workers, and soon for many others too.
posted by hippybear at 10:56 AM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


corb: I'm actually really concerned at the idea that the President can unilaterally order people...

It's the standard regulatory process. The agency (part of the executive branch) proposes a rule/regulation pursuant to authority granted to it under legislation, it goes through a notice and comment period, it may/may not be changed as a result, and then it is published/effective. People/businesses can sue if they believe it is outside the scope of the executive branch's rulemaking authority. They can also sue under the original law alleging the law provides an unconstitutional delegation of legislative power.
posted by melissasaurus at 10:57 AM on July 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


I assume that they'll exempt graduate students by limiting the work paid to 20 hours a week.

At least at my university, we are already considered to be working 20 hours a week, regardless of the hours we actually work. There's no time reporting system or oversight, your TA or RA is just considered to be a 20 hour job, even if you're effectively required to work double or triple that. We're just told to fit whatever we have to do in 20 hours, nevermind whether or not that is physically possible. (See: the year I spent as an RA doing full-time fieldwork for someone else. The response I got when I questioned the hours this required was "You'll have to work on your own research at night.")
posted by pemberkins at 10:57 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


corb, I say we should just save our concern for when things actually get worse rather than prematurely become concerned when things improve because maybe somehow things could become worse in the future.

And don't get too worried about it; the executive branch has a lot of authority, and what Obama is proposing is not in any way a new or novel use of that authority. He's not expanding that authority by doing this kind of rule making.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:58 AM on July 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


I mean, I know there's a Democrat in office now and everyone is saying 'yay', but what if next year it's a Republican in office and he cuts it down significantly lower or destroys overtime completely?

If conservatives want to be even more well-known as the sociopaths who want workers to get sick and die, and steal their money while that's happening, that would the perfect way to do it.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:02 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


What are you talking about? "Full time employment" was defined as 40 hours decades ago,

With an hour for lunch, a 40 hour work week is 45 hours long. Sure, your lunch hour is in theory your time, but I've eaten over the keyboard with regularity - and in many offices, it's an unspoken expectation.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:08 AM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm okay with most of the jobs I've held (tech/proposal writing, management) being salaried and exempt, because it means that I can justify (to myself and my employer) going to appointments during the day

So you are okay with working 50 or 60 hours a week, unpaid, so that you can take off an hour once a year to see the doctor? I'm not sure that is such a great trade off.

A better solution would be to have an annual allotment of sick/vacation/personal time that you can use however you like.
posted by JackFlash at 11:11 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I agree with Pogo_Fuzzybutt - though some states require the lunches to be .5 hours, that's still half an hour I'm not getting paid for which requires me to work half an hour later. Lunch used to be part of the eight hours, but it's not anymore, usually.
posted by corb at 11:11 AM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


This weird new future is scarier every day.

TIL: congress is starting to use github for version control[*] :P
posted by kliuless at 11:19 AM on July 1, 2015


For a while I was just over the exempt/non-exempt line by job title, not by money. It was a weird situation where many of the people I supervised made more money than me by making time-and-a-half on long days, while I continued to make straight time. I couldn't complain much, because technically (by FLSA) they didn't have to pay me anything for the extra hours.

Sure is hard to get someone to volunteer for a promotion over that breakpoint, though. So, so many capable people I could really use now as supervisors won't take the pay cut to do it. That's messed up. The whole 'exempt' thing should really just be the upper management types with MBAs who are typically external hires and don't come up through the ranks.
posted by ctmf at 11:21 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


it means that I can justify (to myself and my employer) going to appointments during the day and even pissing off when nothing is going on without having to punch out:

That's not how I've seen it in practice in a lot of places across many different professions: Yes, maybe one can kick off for an appointment now and again, but leaving when there's nothing to do? Nope, even if the job could be done at home should something arise, many employers have this obsession with being in the office. (This is especially grating when you're expected to be available over email constantly anyways). So, salaried means (sometimes officially, sometimes unofficially) working at least 45 hours minimum, every week. No flexing around time week to week to balance out when they work you 60+.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:23 AM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm okay with most of the jobs I've held (tech/proposal writing, management) being salaried and exempt, because it means that I can justify (to myself and my employer) going to appointments during the day

So you are okay with working 50 or 60 hours a week, unpaid, so that you can take off an hour once a year to see the doctor?


Yes. That's precisely what I meant and not at all an absurd reading of it.

But what I fear we'd really see if the non-exempt rules were stretched to cover everyone is more non-payment based on work availability (e.g., on-call shift scheduling), as well as a significant uptick in minute-by-minute monitoring of work habits.

I'm as sensitive to anyone about complaints of over-regulation harming workers, but I think that making everyone into an hourly wage worker isn't necessarily the right thing to do.
posted by Etrigan at 11:44 AM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Actually, thinking about this as the first strike in something coming down the pipe, this was a really smart move.

The biggest hurdle to raising the federal minimum wage, at least in my thinking, has been that if minimum wage jumps to, say $15/hour, what do you do with all of the employees who are already making $15/hour. You have essentially just lowered their "status" on the wage earning scale. But, if you make it so that those earning $15/hour before the hike are now in the non-exempt status, forcing employers to either raise their base pay, or giving them the opportunity to now be paid actual overtime, you have effectively opened up the wage floor to incentivize the employer to raise those employees wages, either to avoid overtime, or, conversely, to allow those employees to gain a distinct wage improvement because they can no longer be exempt from overtime wages. This is a good move, in my opinion, and is going to be a major shift economically for a lot of employees.

Mind you, this will also incentivize employers to try to limit hours of any non-exempt employees, either by restricting shift assignments, or by hiring additional employees. But if we get the minimum wage hike, employers are going to quickly find themselves short handed if this does what the Keynesian economists predict will happen. More money in the pockets of wage workers means higher demand for products and services, and gives all businesses the opportunity to expand their financial earnings. I mean, seriously, this really does look like a really smart move, if I am reading this right.

Then, of course, you will have the Austrian or Chicago school economists harping about how this will cause struggling businesses to close up shop or have to lay people off because of the increased cost of labor. Of course, if you aren't making enough money to pay for the labor, well, you probably don't have a very good business model to begin with. And, of course, the answer for this really is about getting banks to issue small business loans at the same rates they are lending to each other. I am hoping to see something coming from the Commerce Department or maybe the Fed that would tip the bucket of money that is currently locked up in large institutional investments, instead of being circulated through the rest of the economy.

I know this will be an improvement for most government employees as well as many private sector jobs, but I do wonder about academic and non-profit organizations. The biggest factor is going to be timing, I think. It will take about 6 months of companies paying higher wages before we will realize any improvement in demand in the direct markets. Think of the delay in spending between when gas prices drop (or any essential cost of living item drops) before an small burst of discretionary spending starts to emerge on the balance sheets of most businesses. I know the significant drop earlier this year had a very mild effect of consumer spending, though given that we are still in a consumer recession, I have a feeling a lot of the would be gains were eaten up by many people simply playing catch up on debt more than any increase in spending.

If this works, then we will find ourselves pulling out of the consumer recession just in time for the election cycle to kick into full swing, which could be a major boon for the democratic tickets in most states.

Speculation:
1) Raise the non-excempt limit
2) Raise the minimum wage
3) Increase incentives for lending institutions to free up cash flow for medium and small businesses (which, of course, will also benefit large businesses and corporations)
4) Economic recession ends for all levels of the economy, reducing unemployment dramatically in the process

I am probably missing a few steps in there. But the business world will likely belly-ache at first, until they start to see the returns on the investment on their balance sheets.
posted by daq at 11:49 AM on July 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


Doing this right after the ACA got upheld can't be a coincidence. Remember how all the employers were going to fire workers to get under the 50 employee limit to get around some of the ACA requirements? Now those employers have the options:

A) fire people to get down to 50 employees and pay the remaining overworked people the overtime they deserve
B) hire more people to keep paying everyone standard wages, but have to abide by the stiffer ACA regulations
posted by jermsplan at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


But what I fear we'd really see if the non-exempt rules were stretched to cover everyone is more non-payment based on work availability (e.g., on-call shift scheduling), as well as a significant uptick in minute-by-minute monitoring of work habits.

First half: unions.
Second half: I don't really see that. We pay a crap ton of people overtime and another crap ton of nominally exempt people for extra hours at a capped rate less than 1.5x, but not below straight time. It costs us lots and lots of money to work more than 40 hours. That doesn't automatically result in scrutiny of individual workers, though. More often, it puts pressure on project management's scheduling (in)competence when they have to justify bringing in 25 people on a Saturday. It's the second or third level manager taking the heat for not being able to get the work done in the normal work week or for not properly estimating the cost/timeline up front.
posted by ctmf at 12:21 PM on July 1, 2015


I'm okay with most of the jobs I've held (tech/proposal writing, management) being salaried and exempt, because it means that I can justify (to myself and my employer) going to appointments during the day

And if you work for a company that allows this, it's great. But a bunch of companies want it both ways -- you can't work less than 40 hours, but if you need to work more they won't pay you more.
posted by jeather at 12:39 PM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


If companies want employees to work longer hours, pay them for it.

QFT. I've worked jobs when they've downsized and then distributed the remaining employees, who of course were exempt. Sure, the company saved "costs," by extracting what's essentially free labor from their employees.

Any joker can make money by stealing the labor of others. I wish pro-labor people would remind folks every now and then.
posted by Gelatin at 1:26 PM on July 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


I find it bizarre that overtime is set at a dollar amount. Up here, except for a few exemptions, you hit overtime at 44 hours in a given week (Or 88 averaged over two, I think, if you have a two week pay period).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:28 PM on July 1, 2015


the man of twists and turns: "President Obama, blogging at the Huffington Post, as reported by Buzzfeed.

This weird new future is scarier every day.
"

He's also on Twitter, opining about Guacamole.
posted by octothorpe at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I find it bizarre that overtime is set at a dollar amount. Up here, except for a few exemptions, you hit overtime at 44 hours in a given week (Or 88 averaged over two, I think, if you have a two week pay period).

You hit overtime at 40 hours. 41+ hours are paid at 1.5x the wage. However, not all positions qualify for overtime pay - and one of the criteria is how much the job pays. This action increases that limit from 23k to 50k per year.

Lots of places did this thing where they would "promote" good employees to Assistant To The Manager positions so that they could avoid paying overtime despite actual job duties not changing much if at all. Moving someone from a cashier position at 10/hr +OT to an Asst. Manager position with no OT at 12/hr would represent a cost savings to the company.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:37 PM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


but I'm actually really concerned at the idea that the President can unilaterally order people to set the overtime standards differently. I mean, I know there's a Democrat in office now and everyone is saying 'yay', but what if next year it's a Republican in office and he cuts it down significantly lower or destroys overtime completely?

What if, indeed.

Obama's action is essentially an equal and opposite reaction to the changes Bush made in 2004 to gut overtime regulations. Elections matter, and regulators gonna regulate as they see fit. The executive branch has always had the Constitutional right and duty to interpret laws and write regulations, and that is what this is, just as it was in 2004.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:38 PM on July 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, how much the job pays is simply not part of the calculation here. It's hell linking from my phone but if you Google "Ontario Labour Board" you can find it. Some industries are exempt, but it doesn't matter if you're making $11 or $100 an hour in a non exempt industry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:40 PM on July 1, 2015


What if, indeed.

So my point stands, then - this is still a dangerous exercise of executive power that cannot be guaranteed to be stable, and has already proven dangerous for millions of workers. The answer to that is not 'well, Obama fixed it' if it can be easily removed by the next president. This stuff needs to go through legislative processes to make it less changeable at individual whims. Regulation processes are becoming a new way to evade public scrutiny and input, and that's a problem.
posted by corb at 1:42 PM on July 1, 2015


No, your point does not stand. It was within the scope of the Bush administration's constitutional powers to interpret the laws one way, and it is within the scope of the Obama administration's constitutional powers to interpret them another way. The legislators can get busy writing laws to rein in / clarify those laws to limit the executive however they wish, but as of yet have not. There is no overreach here, merely delegation of powers from one branch to another.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:44 PM on July 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


Or, to put it another way, you're going to have to support your insinuation that being "stable" is necessarily desirable. People *want* change when they elect a new President, and expect that there are actions the executive branch can take that don't require new legislation. Don't like that, take it up with the founders.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, how much the job pays is simply not part of the calculation here.

I get what you're saying, but it's not really "part of the calculation" here either. If you're FLSA non-exempt, you get OT for more than 40 hours in a week.

Whether you're exempt or not depends on what exactly your job description is. Except that, if you make a ridiculously low amount of money (currently 23,000 or thereabouts a year), they can't call you exempt no matter what. It's more of an override condition to the rule than part of it.
posted by ctmf at 1:53 PM on July 1, 2015


Semantics, maybe. If you as the employer are trying to call someone who only makes 23,000/yr an exempt employee, no, you're out of the box of intent of the law.
posted by ctmf at 1:56 PM on July 1, 2015


Right, and when FLSA was originally enacted, and the way had been implemented for decades, is that most middle-class workers would be covered. Exemptions would be for executives, managers, and well-compensated professional positions. And that makes sense: if you're given a certain level of autonomy in your job, it's not unreasonable for your employer to also expect that you'll work longer hours on occasion if necessary.

But since the salary threshold hasn't been updated since 1975, it's been eroded by inflation and no longer covers the workers it was intended to cover. Obviously someone making $23,000/year shouldn't be exempt, but what the Obama administration and the Labor Department are saying is: in 2015 (or 2016, when it will take effect), neither should someone making $24-$50k a year.
posted by Asparagus at 2:06 PM on July 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hmm. My first thought is how this is going to affect schoolteachers. A lot of schoolteachers in California make well under 50k - I'm not sure if their weekly wages when they are in school would count, or if the fact that the school year is (technically) 9 months would somehow cancel this out.

Anybody know?
posted by zug at 2:09 PM on July 1, 2015


So my point stands, then - this is still a dangerous exercise of executive power that cannot be guaranteed to be stable, and has already proven dangerous for millions of workers. The answer to that is not 'well, Obama fixed it' if it can be easily removed by the next president. This stuff needs to go through legislative processes to make it less changeable at individual whims. Regulation processes are becoming a new way to evade public scrutiny and input, and that's a problem.

If you're concerned that the authority of the executive branch to make and enforce regulations that flow from legislation passed by Congress, I'm not sure what to tell you. Imagine living in a nation where we leave it to Congress to create laws with the appropriate amount of specifity so that they can be practically implemented. Rule making is extraordinarily labor intensive; Congress would be overwhelmed. Yet, it's also necessary. This is why this authority is part of the executive function. This type of libertarian utopia version of the American political process-where we are governed solely by statutes and not by regulations-- may have been workable 200 years ago, but it isn't today. But to be clear, we aren't talking about some new and unusual expansion of executive power with this particular rule making exercise. This regulatory effort basically says "the law is forty years behind and it's time to make it appropriate again," not "here's some wacky expansion of presidential power." I would argue that people might be okay with the theory of limiting executive power so as not to include rule making, but they would decidedly not like how this played out in real life. If you're really exercised about this, I guess you can write your congress person and attempt to interest them in a constitutional amendment prohibiting rule making.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:27 PM on July 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


But since the salary threshold hasn't been updated since 1975, it's been eroded by inflation and no longer covers the workers it was intended to cover.

I'll say! According to the Department of Labor's CPI calculator $23,660 in 1975 has the buying power of $104,581.16 in 2015.

Insert standard grumble about why these things aren't indexed to inflation to start with.
posted by fings at 2:32 PM on July 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, so if you're mad, just remember that after 37 years of employers becoming accustomed to cheaper and cheaper labor, Obama has updated this number by 1/3 of what it would need to be to keep doing what it was meant to do.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:34 PM on July 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Obama's action is essentially an equal and opposite reaction to the changes Bush made in 2004 to gut overtime regulations.

People *want* change when they elect a new President, and expect that there are actions the executive branch can take that don't require new legislation.

And President Obama waited six years to issue this executive order because?

This is exactly the kind of thing he should have done on Day 1. Bush had gutted overtime regulations with an executive order, and it was entirely within Obama's power to fix them with an executive order, and yet it took six years for him to do it.

Why?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 6:16 PM on July 1, 2015


This is exactly the kind of thing he should have done on Day 1.

This is not the kind of change you put into effect in the middle of a gigantic recession and a drastic upturn in unemployment. You want to make it as easy for employers to keep employees on, since so many people were close to losing their jobs anyway.

This is the sort of change you make when the labor market has recovered, unemployment is stable and relatively low, but there's not enough growth in wages. This will put pressure on employers to hire more, or at least pay more, which they are in a position to do now that the economy is stable and growing.
posted by skewed at 6:30 PM on July 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


And President Obama waited six years to issue this executive order because?

Well, Bush waited until the very end of his first term to do it, but I get your point. It isn't like this is an Obama-specific phenomenon, though.

When a new President gets elected, they do whatever they can to push legislation through, and when that well runs dry, they use regulatory authority as a "Plan B" to getting things done. Say what you will about "political capital" and the idea of a "mandate", but Congress does tend to be more flexible in the beginning of a President's term, before the campaign ads for the next election are running, and because you can do more with legislation than you can with regulatory rule-making and executive orders, it makes sense to focus on the more powerful vehicle for change first.

There's also the matter of toddlers in Congress wanting to be the ones who get credit for the changes being made, so if you want to get your legislative agenda through, you probably can't be flexing your own authority a lot in the beginning or risk losing any chance of effecting more change later.

None of this is to say I condone this approach, especially in this instance where so many people have been getting boned for so long, but there is some logic to the general strategy of trying to include Congress when possible.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:32 PM on July 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, Bush waited until the very end of his first term to do it, but I get your point. It isn't like this is an Obama-specific phenomenon, though.

No, but I'd be willing to bet that, should a Republican actually manage to get elected in 2016, they wouldn't hesitate to issue an executive order to go back to Bush-era levels (or worse).
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:23 PM on July 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'll say! According to the Department of Labor's CPI calculator $23,660 in 1975 has the buying power of $104,581.16 in 2015.

I recently re-read one of Stephen King's early novels, and was struck by a line about a character making a good salary of $10,000 a year. Which would indeed have been good money in 1975, but is considerably less than my first job out of college in 1990 or so.
posted by Gelatin at 3:45 AM on July 2, 2015


And President Obama waited six years to issue this executive order because?
Point of clarification: this isn't an executive order; it's a notice of proposed rulemaking. The main difference is that it is not immediately effective, and may never become effective. The president issued a Presidential Memoradum to the agency last year, directing them to begin revising the overtime regulations.

If you think the $50K threshold should be higher (or, I suppose, lower), you can submit comments as follows:
-online at the rulemaking portal
-by mail: Mary Ziegler, Director of the Division of Regulations, Legislation, and Interpretation, Wage and Hour Division, U.S. Department of Labor, Room S-3502, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.

All comments must be received within 60 days of publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register (it hasn't been published yet, but will be soon). All comments must include the agency name (Department of Labor) and the proposed rule's RIN ("RIN 1235-AA11"). Note that comments, including any personal information provided by the commenter, become public record and are published at regulations.gov.

The agency generally responds to all public comments (at least as a group; so "X% of comments requested a higher threshold increase; we agree/disagree because reasons").
posted by melissasaurus at 4:29 AM on July 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


Ok, time to comment people.

Oh, and an update/correction to my prior comment. Apparently the threshold has been raised once since 1975, which is where the present $23,660 comes from. $50,440 is the inflation (CPI) adjusted amount to be equal to what it was in 1975. I still think it could be higher, but I'll take it (perfect being the enemy of good and all that).
posted by fings at 9:00 PM on July 6, 2015


« Older Farewell to America   |   Saved by the Bell: Written by English occultist... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments