October 22, 2018; Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)
In 2016, NPQ published an article by Andy Schmidt, a labor lawyer, entitled “Is Exploiting Workers Key to Your Enterprise Model? Nonprofits and the New Overtime Requirements.” Maybe this deserves a reread in Washington state, where some nonprofits oppose a proposal its Department of Labor and Industries put out for public comment that would increase the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. The measure comes on top of a graduated minimum wage hike to $12.00 next year and to $13.50 in 2020.
“More and more of us are working more and more hours,” the nonprofit Working Washington says on its website, “but we’re not getting paid for it. Pretty much all an employer has to do is call someone a manager and pay them a salary of at least $24,000 a year, and they can make them work as many hours as they feel like.”
And, indeed, that appears to be the assumption being made by some nonprofit managers, who somehow manage to craft an appeal for a continuation of unfair labor practices based on the needs of low-income children—some of whom, one could presume, live in those very families.
At Boys & Girls Club of Spokane County, the state’s higher minimum wage already has added about $50,000 to payroll costs, said Dick Hanlin, the executive director. The nonprofit serves about 2,000 local kids ages 6 to 18, mostly from low-income families.
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Stricter overtime rules could force the Boys & Girls Club to reduce hours for entry-level managers or hire more part-time workers, Hanlin said. While it’s unusual for entry-level managers to work more than 40 hours per week, he said it sometimes is necessary during special events or big club fundraisers.
“It doesn’t necessarily help the workplace; it hurts,” Hanlin said of the proposed rules.
Higher operating costs also force the club to either raise more money or consider fee increases for its low-income clientele, he said.
Not to call out any one individual, but this kind of nonsensical public positioning could make the public question nonprofit ethics, breeding skepticism and mistrust among potential donors and other stakeholders. It has been a while since we have seen this kind of backlash from a nonprofit against a measure that would benefit many thousands of workers and their families and communities, and we will continue to call them out when they occur.—Ruth McCambridge