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.