Trumpen Proletarians Unite!

You have something to lose: your overtime!

Forgetful of the support of working class voters in the election, Mr. Trump will nominate an opponent of the Obama Administration’s new overtime rule, Mr. Andy Pudzer, for Secretary of Labor. The rule more than doubles, to $47,000, the salary threshold at which a worker can be considered overtime exempt based on job duties. It was set to go into effect later this year, subject to a challenge in the federal courts.

In holding this view, Mr. Pudzer does not represent the people with office but not professional skills who manage shifts and departments in fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and retail outlets. Rather he represents the stockholders and franchisees of entitles like CKE Restaurants, which will be looking for a new CEO when Pudzer becomes Secretary.

The interests of these two classes of people are dialectically opposed. Hardee’s franchisees (under CKE’s corporate umbrella) face two near-term risks that would limit their ability to accumulate capital at the rate they presently do: paying shift managers more overtime and paying worker bees a living minimum wage. The franchisee keeps the difference between the amount of money these so-called managers and the working poor are willing to accept under current market conditions, and the net cash flow their work generates. Anything the franchisee has to pay the managers and workers reduces this accumulation. But without the workers: no accumulation at all.

Thus class contradiction. It seems the economic and moral claims of these workers impinge on the transaction, whatever the excuses of the bourgeosie.

The trouble for Mr. Trump is that some of the affected shift managers are white and rural, and may also be uneducated. That is, they are the kind of voters who put him in office. They may not care about the minimum wage. Having to work for minimum wage is what they fear; increasing it is not what is in their immediate interest. But they may well care about being paid overtime when they are asked to work 60-hour weeks for maybe $35,000 a year.

If Mr. Pudzer aligns his policies with his opinions, he will be serving the class that includes franchisees of Hardees, among others, not the class that includes pseudo-managerial workers. And Mr. Trump will have betrayed his voters who belong to that class.

Originally posted in Marx's Political Economy.