Posted: December 9, 2016
Donald Trump won the presidency with a populist message and the support of working-class voters. But aside from Trump's opposition to trade deals, little of his agenda is actually geared toward improving the lot of people who embraced him.
His cabinet selections so far have been heavy on billionaires and Wall Street financiers. His tax cuts would disproportionately help the wealthy. And he wants to repeal the 2010 health care law that has provided medical coverage to 22 million Americans.
But Trump will soon have a chance to do something meaningful for working-class voters-something that would help millions of American workers beyond the 1,000 Carrier employees whose jobs had been slated to move from Indiana to Mexico before Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence intervened.
The new Labor Department rule would make 4.2 million more workers eligible for overtime pay. The rule had been set to take effect today, but earlier this month a federal judge blocked its implementation. By appealing the ruling or continuing to likely appeal from the Obama administration, Trump could demonstrate his concern for workers.
As it stands now, only salaried workers earning less than $23,660 are guaranteed overtime pay when they put in more than 40 hours a week. People making more than that can be denied overtime by being designated as executive, administrative or professional employees.
If $23,660 seems like a laughably small amount to be designated as management, it is. For a family of four, it does not even reach the poverty line. Those on the other side of the aisle say support of the Department of Labor's overtime rule regulation assumes that working class people and that it would win with the new administration's economic plan.
But, if in fact, this regulation would hurt many of the salaried professionals who have had to be reclassified as hourly wage earners. A salaried position brings greater flexibility, improved benefits in many cases and a stable income. Employees who lose this status would be unlikely to rush home and excitedly tell their spouse, "Honey, I have great news. I just got made an employee again!"
Where employers have announced plans to reclassify white-collar employees, they have heard extremely negative reactions from employees who typically see hourly employment as a demotion. Something has to change. It's not right, in my opinion, to see employees who were once deemed expendable now considered to be reclassified as something else.