B²: Wage Wars

President Obama is waging a war…on wages. In the midst of the fights in cities (Los Angeles being the most recent battleground), the President is set to take on the wage battle where he thinks he can – overtime pay.

Bill Samuel, director of legislative affairs for the AFL-CIO told Politico:

“The minimum wage they can’t do. This is probably the most significant step they can take to raise wages for millions of workers.”

Obama is purportedly posed to bypass Congress and, through the Department of Labor, propose a new rule on overtime pay as early as this week.

Do you know how to talk about the potential government-mandated overtime pay increases without sounding like you’re trying to keep the struggling guy down?

Good thing it’s Tuesday, B² day.

Here’s the likely media question and the B² (block and bridge) that sets the narrative straight:

Q: “How is it fair that millions of Americans are working overtime without overtime pay?”

: “What isn’t fair is that so many Americans can’t even find work these days, let alone a job that includes overtime. And what we do know is that <insert talking point>.”

You can continue the conversation by focusing on the reports that show this will severely limit flexibility in the workplace without improving pay (base salaries will be lowered to offset higher costs). Or, you can focus on dealing with overtime pay the right way – through Congress and not executive action.

But wherever you choose to take the conversation next, do highlight the fact that the real problem in employment are those who can’t find work and have had their hours cut due to Obama’s policies.

Last, a messaging note of caution. Unions have been very clever in branding the term “living wage.” Don’t let their words trip you up. Instead of focusing on how much money people need to make ends meet (which varies from person to person and city to city), focus on the specific ideas that bring more income to all American kitchen tables, regardless of where they live. Solutions trump problems!