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How will Trump look at overtime, other workforce issues?

The administration of President-elect Donald Trump may offer a cautious boost in the minimum wage but pull back on plans to revise federal overtime laws.

That’s according to some midstate business and workforce experts, who also predict there may be some room for compromise by Trump on another issue in the workplace, family leave.

What about overtime?

Business leaders currently have until Dec. 1 to comply with proposed overtime regulations, which among other things will double the salary level, under which employees working more than 40 hours a week must be paid overtime (see related stories, pages 1, 17-20).

Many business leaders feel that “the overtime rules would do more harm than good for those people who they’re trying to help,” said David Patti, former CEO of the Pennsylvania Business Council.

And Republican Trump will be more likely than Democrat Hillary Clinton would have been to back away from the overtime changes, Patti said.

Trump has said on the campaign trail that he would exempt small business from the overtime regulations.

A complete reversal might pose challenges, given the working-class supporters who helped propel Trump to victory. But Trump might offer other proposals that could appeal to them.

Family leave

Patti was intrigued by the speech delivered by Trump’s daughter Ivanka at the GOP convention.

“She sounds a lot more Democratic-leaning with issues like family leave, working mothers and day care, and (Trump) embraced parts of that,” said Patti, now chief revenue officer for Lower Paxton Township-based business-to-business marketing firm Sacunas Inc.

Moderate Republicans who worry the party has lost touch with blue-collar Americans, meanwhile, could use family leave as a way to get them back, said Patti.

“The basic underlying concept of family leave is appealing to conservatives, because it’s about being able to take care of your family,” Patti said.

David Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Capital Region Economic Development Corp., said Trump ultimately didn’t speak much about family leave during the campaign.

Black expects Trump to encourage best practices, but expected the new president would not mandate more than the market demands.

Minimum wage

Trump was criticized during the campaign for flip-flopping on the minimum wage, but he did say he would support raising the federal floor to $10 an hour, a departure from his previous assertion that wages are too high.

The federal minimum wage is now $7.25 an hour, although it is higher in some states. Pennsylvania’s is the same as the federal scale.

The private sector already has been moving higher.

Convenience-store chain Sheetz earlier this year boosted its starting hourly wage to $10. Weis Markets Inc. and Wawa also have hiked starting pay.

Black said the president-elect seems to be “more of a market-rate guy on minimum wage. I don’t see a push for an increase.”

Black also noted that “success in government starts with small wins.”

One win might be lowering the overtime salary threshold for management employees from the currently proposed $47,476 a year to a more realistic number, Black said.

“The big issue will be his ability to work with Congress. If he can, a lot a change will happen,” Black added, cautioning that Trump on Jan. 20 “will not only face a divided government, but also a very divided country.

“Perhaps the most important thing (he) should do is to restore integrity to the federal government — a big order” for Trump or Clinton if she had won, Black added.

Get in on the discussion

As Trump prepares for the White House, issues affecting various industries are weighing on business leaders’ minds. What’s to become of health care? How will the president-elect address trade relations?

Those questions are among the topics CPBJ staff will talk about in a free webinar titled, “We have a winner…Now what does it mean?” Set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, the discussion will provide an early forecast on business issues that the new leader of the country will likely impact.

Click here to sign up.

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at [email protected].

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