Employers Butthurt By Having To Pay Hard Workers A Middle Class Wage

Of course, they wouldn’t put it that way (boldface mine):

For decades, bosses at publishing houses, glossy magazines, consulting firms, advocacy groups, movie production companies and talent agencies have groomed their assistants to be the next generation of big shots by working them long hours for low wages.

Call it the “Devil Wears Prada” economy, after the novel depicting life working for a fictionalized Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor.

But now, with the Obama administration moving to require time-and-a-half overtime pay for most salaried employees making less than $47,476 a year, that business model is suddenly under assault. The change presents more than an economic challenge for the companies that rely on the willingness of young, ambitious workers to trade pay and self-respect for a shot at a prestige job down the road.

In the eyes of those who have survived the gantlet of midday coffee runs and late-night emails, the administration’s overtime regulation represents nothing less than the beginnings of a cultural shift, and not necessarily a welcome one.

I shat away my twenties slaving away for crap wages and you will too! And, of course, non-profits who, in my experience, too often want to save the world, but not their employees, are also finding solidarity through butthurt:

Some high-profile nonprofits have raised similar concerns. Ideologically, the United States Public Interest Research Group, founded to fight companies that harm consumers and the environment, and Judicial Watch, which conservative activists created in the 1990s, largely to uncover Clinton administration corruption, have little in common. But both groups, in letters to the Labor Department, argued that the new overtime rule would hamper the mission of training young idealists.

“We would send them to the Clinton library if we’re doing an investigation,” Susan Prytherch, who oversees human resources for Judicial Watch, said of junior staff members. “We may think differently before sending them off.”

First of all, anything that cuts down on conservative investigations of Bill Clinton’s penis is a step in the right direction–actually, it’s the Lord’s work. Second, someone who is able to travel and work independently on a complex topic like Bill Clinton’s penis, often for long hours deserves a middle class wage. They are working long hours, doing tedious things (that often are complex to boot). Just pay them a decent wage.

Though figuring out the arithmetic on this seems to be beyond some employers’ ken:

At the Washington offices of Burson-Marsteller, which handles public relations and polling for a variety of corporate and political clients, so-called associates typically make $40,000 to $50,000 a year, and often work well beyond 40 hours a week. Some are tasked with pitching in on 24-hour-a-day monitoring of media coverage for clients in addition to their usual work, which can keep them up late into the night.

All you have to do is pay them $48,000 per year and this problem goes away–when the lowest salary is $40,000. Cheap bastids. Here’s the one employer in the article who gets it:

I’ll be happy for everyone in town having a slightly better quality of life,” said Tony Fratto, a former George W. Bush administration official whose public affairs firm typically hires about 15 or 20 associates each year out of more than 1,000 applicants. His firm already tries to limit overtime for reasons of work-life balance.

Mr. Fratto said he had been in many offices around Washington where partners require assistants to stick around as late in the evening as they do, then dump a pile of research on them on their way out the door. “That is abusive,” he said.

When you’re to the right of a former Bush 41 official on labor issues, you need to rethink things (though, admittedly, I’m a member of the nefarious ‘economic left‘). Because you might just be an asshole.

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5 Responses to Employers Butthurt By Having To Pay Hard Workers A Middle Class Wage

  1. sedgequeen says:

    From time to time, environmentalists (of which I am one) fret about the fact that most environmentalists are middle to upper class and white. It has long seemed to me that one explanation is the virtual requirement for long unpaid or badly paid internship as an apprenticeship for working in environmental organizations. Really poor people can’t afford to take unpaid internships.

  2. Felicis says:

    It would be nice if we could get the idea across that there is nothing wrong with demanding a living wage, as well as enough free time to spend it.

    I would make the rules much more stringent (though, perhaps we must settle for some incremental increase). Assuming regular OT rules, $15 an hour, and 50-weeks a year (unpaid vacation of 2-weeks) – 50-hours a week turns into $48,750. Many salaried jobs *expect* employees to put in at least 50-hours a week (oh sure, your *told* that sometimes you work more and sometimes less, but the ‘less’ never actually appears). This ignores also the average of an hour-and-a-half a day commute time to get to that job (why travel to and from work is expected to be at your expense and not your employer’s is another thing that is beyond me) as well as ‘outside of work’ work done.

    I see no reason to impose a limit of $48K – if your job regularly works you over 40-hours a week, then they don’t have enough people for the work that needs to be done. Either hire more or pay the OT. I would go further and require time and a half up to 50, double-time to 55, triple 55-60, and so forth. With no exceptions (for example for hospitals who want to work residents 80+ hours a week, but pay them $50,000 or less a year because they are still ‘in training’).

    Of course – I would also mandate a month’s paid vacation for all employees, get rid of the ‘part-time’ distinction on benefits, add in strong family and sick leave laws… But then, I am some kind of lefty commie…

  3. jrkrideau says:

    An interesting thing is that having people routinely work overtime without overtime pay is not only exploiting the worker it is dumb. It is likely to be more costly than bringing in a replacement or just plain planning the workflow properly.


    • Chris G says:

      I bet it’s more about power than money; more specifically, taking away the power of an employer to tell a subordinate that they have to do x hours of uncompensated work tonight or they’ll lose their job, get shitty a reference, etc. The proposed OT rule would redistribute power downward. Not a happy thing for douchebags.

  4. alwayscurious says:

    Seems that if the nonprofit were worth working for at sub-par salaries, the idealistic employees would recognize that and donate some of their newer, higher salary to the cause. Or perhaps the nonprofit can find someone who’s naturally interested in Bill Clinton’s penis and is willing to donate their time?

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