Overtime

Carl’s Jr. CEO Concern-Trolls Workers Whose Jobs He Wants to Automate

Lost in Space

Danger, Will Robinson: I’m coming for your job!

Writing in an op-ed on Forbes.com, Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder warns about “The Harsh Reality of Regulating Overtime Pay.”

Turning highly sought-after entry level management careers into hourly jobs where employees punch a clock and are compensated for time spent rather than time well spent is hardly an improvement on the path from the working class to the middle class.

“Highly sought-after entry level management careers,” my ass. During my coverage of the fast food strikes in 2013, I heard from a number of fast food workers who turned down “assistant manager” promotions because the extra 50 cents an hour wasn’t worth the extra 20 hours a week of unpaid overtime work. But either way, Puzder’s alleged concern for employee welfare is nothing short of ironic coming from a guy who fondly muses about the idea of replacing all of his workers with robots:

“They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” says Puzder of swapping employees for machines.

What a charmer.

The harsh reality is that CEOs like Puzder couldn’t give a shit about the welfare of their employees (let alone the welfare of their franchisees’ employees). “Millennials like not seeing people,” Puzder explained to Business Insider in describing his robotized utopia. So if he could have automated all his workers out of their jobs, he’d already have done so.

But he can’t. So he hasn’t. Likewise, you can be sure that if Puzder could run his restaurants with fewer employees working fewer hours he already would be. So don’t expect to see any overtime-rule-induced mass layoffs at Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s anytime soon.

Of course, it’s not just Puzder wiping away crocodile tears on behalf of the 12.5 million Americans who will soon be forced to endure higher pay for fewer hours at the cold unfeeling hands of government bureaucrats. Paul’s got a rundown of various conservative objections to the new higher overtime threshold, and frankly, they all strike me as rather weird. Most bizarre is the repeated assertion that salaried workers would somehow prefer to go unpaid for their overtime hours rather than suffer the humiliation of having to “punch in” like a lowly hourly prole. “Forcing More Workers to Punch a Clock Isn’t Progress,” cries Koch-funded Carrie Lucas at the National Review.

Oy. Speaking of things I’d like to punch.

Puzder proudly describes himself as a member of the Job Creators Network—a network with close ties to notorious D.C. public relations firm Berman and Company, and from the looks of their landing page, apparently consists of rich old white men concern-trolling on behalf of the young off-white workers they pay poverty wages. (Um, maybe they should’ve focused-grouped their website’s white-man-on-top motif?)

Job Creator's Network

2015 Webby Awards winner for “Most Condescending Landing Page”

But Puzder and his Job Creators Network buddies aren’t really interested in creating jobs at all. Quite the opposite. Like all self-interested businesspeople, they’re focused on minimizing their labor costs as much as possible. And if that means a brave new world of employee-free restaurants, Puzder is eager to embrace the future without an ounce of regret: “I want to try it,” he told Business Insider.

So enough already with this paternalistic bullshit about defending “entry-level” workers from the dangers of higher wages and more benefits. It just isn’t believable. And it never has been.

Overtime Rule Goes to OMB, 13.5 Million Americans Could Soon See Higher Wages

Overtime

The Economic Policy Institute’s findings indicate that millions of families would benefit from these increased rules.

President Obama’s proposal to restore overtime benefits to millions of hardworking Americans cleared another hurdle last night when after months of considering public comments, the Department of Labor (DOL) transmitted the final rule to the Office of Management and Budget.

We don’t know exactly what’s in the final rule, but there’s been no indication from the administration that the details have substantially changed. If approved as proposed, the income threshold above which salaried employees are exempt from time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week would more than double, from $23,660 a year to $50,440.

According to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute, 13.5 million Americans would directly benefit from the new rule.

Overtime pay is like a minimum wage for the middle class. And just like the minimum wage, the overtime threshold has been allowed to erode away for decades: Back in 1975, 65 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime; today only 11 percent do.

But unlike the minimum wage, the Obama administration has the power to raise the overtime threshold without congressional approval through the DOL’s rule-making authority. It’s a long and drawn out process, but it looks like it’s on track to be completed by the end of summer.

No doubt a Republican president would reverse this rule — something middle class voters might be thinking about when they cast their ballots in the fall.

Jeb Bush “100% Wrong” on Overtime, Economists Say

Met Jeb

His campaign website really wants you to know that Jeb!™ takes selfies at diners, just like everybody else! And it turns out, his understanding of basic economics is just as ordinary.

Jeb!™ has long been billed as “the smart Bush,” which turns out not to be a very high bar judging from the GOP frontrunner’s tenuous grasp on economics.

First there was Jeb!™’s clueless prescription for 4 percent growth: “People need to work longer hours,” he told the New Hampshire Union Leader, apparently oblivious to the fact that Americans report working longer hours and taking fewer vacation days than workers in any other developed nation. And then there is his bizarre insistence that expanding overtime pay would result in “less overtime pay,” “less wages earned,” and fewer jobs.

And it’s not just smart-ass bloggers like Paul and I who think Jeb!™ is talking kinda stupid. According to The Guardian, economists from across the spectrum think he “should be embarrassed” by his recent overtime claims:

Numerous economists attacked Bush’s statement, calling him woefully misinformed. And several studies on the rule contradict Bush’s assertion that the overtime rules would “lessen the number of people working”.

Daniel Hamermesh, a University of Texas labor economist, said: “He’s just 100% wrong,” adding that “there will be more overtime pay and more total earnings” and “there’s a huge amount of evidence employers will use more workers”.

It’s a consensus joined by the not-so-lefty economists at Wall Street kraken Goldman Sachs, who estimate the higher overtime threshold would create 120,000 new jobs, and corroborated by the overtime-rule-hating National Retail Federation, which bemoans that the proposed rule would force employers to hire 117,500 new part-time workers in the restaurant and retail industries alone.

Oops.

Republicans like to defend the tenets of trickle-down (that lower taxes, fewer regulations, and smaller government is the only path toward growth and prosperity) by rolling their eyes and exclaiming: “It’s Econ 101!” As if taking an introductory economics course 40-some years ago during one’s beer-addled freshman year of college is qualification enough for running our nation’s economy.

If Jeb!™ wants to maintain his reputation as the smart Bush, he better get himself some better economic advisors. And listen to them.

Overtime Pay Is the Minimum Wage for the Middle Class

 

The Department of Labor just proposed raising the overtime threshold from $23,600 a year to $50,440, and from the fearful squawks coming from the business lobby you’d think the sky was falling. But all this trickle-down scare-talk about job-killing regulations and unintended economic consequences is just that — trickle-down scare talk — without an ounce of empirical data to back it up.

We call it: Chicken Little Economics.

In fact, far from the end of the world, middle-class Americans never did better than when the overtime threshold — the annual salary below which workers are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half overtime pay — was at its peak. A half-century ago, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. But after 40 years in which the threshold has been allowed to steadily erode, only about 8 percent do. If you feel like you’re working longer hours for less money than your parents did, it’s probably because you are.

Today, if you’re salaried and earn more than $23,600 dollars a year, you don’t automatically qualify for overtime: that means every extra hour you work, you work for free. But at the Obama administration’s proposed new threshold, everyone earning a salary of $50,440 a year or less would be eligible to collect time-and-a-half pay for every hour worked over 40 hours a week. That would add nearly 5 million more workers to the numbers eligible, substantially increasing both middle-class incomes and employment. It’s not as high as the $69,000 threshold it would take to return to 1975 levels, but it’s a courageous step in the right direction. It’s like a minimum wage hike for the middle class.

Everybody knows Americans are overworked. A recent Gallup poll found that salaried Americans now report working an average of 47 hours a week — not the supposedly standard 40 — while 18 percent of Americans report working more than 60 hours a week. Indeed, overtime pay has become such a rarity that many Americans don’t even realize that the majority of salaried workers were once eligible. We just keep working longer and harder. And ironically, the longer and harder we work, the more we weaken the labor market, weakening our own bargaining power in the process. That helps explain why over the last 30 years, corporate profits have doubled from about 6% of GDP to about 12%, while wages have fallen by almost exactly the same amount. The erosion of overtime and other labor protections is one of the main factors leading to this worsening inequality. But a higher threshold would help reverse this trend.

Under the new salary threshold, employers would have a choice: They could either pay you time-and-half for your extra hours worked, or they could hire more workers at the standard rate to fill your previously unpaid hours. The former would put more money into your pockets. The latter would put more leisure time at your disposal while directly adding more jobs. And either would be great for workers and great for boosting economic growth.

Lower- and middle-income workers don’t stash their earnings in offshore accounts the way CEOs do — the more they’re paid the more they spend on goods and services. When workers have more money, businesses have more customers; and when businesses have more customers, they hire more workers. Whether through an increase in consumer demand or through a reduction in unpaid hours, a higher overtime threshold would increase total employment, tightening the labor market and driving up real wages for the first time since the late 1990s.

Of course, conservative pundits and politicians will attempt to preserve the status quo by warning that a return to more reasonable overtime standards would somehow cripple our economy, hurting the exact same workers we intend to help. But that’s what they always warn about every regulation — from the minimum wage, to Obamacare, to child labor laws. Yet it never turns out to be true. And trickle-down economics looks more like Chicken Little Economics with every passing day.