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Association professionals write all the time. Whether it is promotional copy, emails to members, committee minutes, newsletter articles, advocacy messages, press releases, or scripts they all are written by staff and often written quickly.
The news last week should remind all of us of the importance of words and grammar.
If you are not aware, a circuit court judge in Maine found in favor of dairy drivers requesting overtime pay.
As explained in the circuit judge's ruling, the state labor guidelines in question are the following, called Exemption F, which lists which work activities are not eligible for overtime pay:
The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of:
1. Agricultural produce;
2. Meat and fish product; and
3. Perishable foods
If there was an Oxford comma after "packing for shipment" then neither "packing" nor "distribution" would be eligible to receive overtime pay. However, without it, "packing for shipment or distribution" count as one activity: packing. Distribution is not covered in the list of overtime exemptions. So they should get paid for it.
Of course, the state argued it did not mean to exclude "distribution" from that clause about overtime pay, but they didn't make that clear through such a poorly written sentence, as explained in the court's ruling.
"If the drivers engage only in distribution and not in any of the standalone activities that Exemption F covers ... the drivers fall outside of Exemption F's scope and thus within the protection of the Maine overtime law."
The new federal appeals court decision reversed a previous ruling for the case, which was first filed back in May 2014. And the new decision came down for just one reason, as the first line of the court ruling said. "For want of a comma, we have this case."
I must admit that MSAE uses the AP style guide as our guideline for grammar rules and it does not require that Oxford comma at the end of the list. But this court case and the following example will change our practice.
As Grammarly notes, the sentences “I love my parents, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty” and “I love my parents, Lady Gaga, and Humpty Dumpty” are different. Without a comma, it looks like the parents in question are, in fact, Lady Gaga and Humpty Dumpty.
MSAE has upcoming events that will help your writing skills, practices, and policies. Register for the Operations Conference where Jodi Wehling will discuss Social Media Polices. Register for the Marketing & Communications Seminar where you will learn about digital writing and editing.
I will be there to learn more and I hope you will be there to join me. As association professionals we need to be correct.
To read the article on the Maine milk-truck drivers go here.
MSU fans are excited. Miles Bridges, a stand out freshman basketball player, has decided to stay at Michigan State University for his sophomore year and continue to play ball versus going to the NBA.
Photo by en.wikipedia.org
The Department of Labor released a proposed rule last summer that would require employers to pay overtime wages to employees making $50,440 or less per year, which would be a 113 percent increase over the current threshold.
Numerous organizations, including MSAE, submitted comments on the proposed rule to DOL last year. MSAE reported that the the new rule would adversely affect many nonprofit organizations. To contain payroll costs from increased overtime obligations, employers would have to either lay off employees or exclude reclassified employees from telework and career growth opportunities outside of core business hours.
Many organizations across the country, including associations, are preparing for a surge in personnel costs as they prepare for the Obama administration’s overhaul to the Department of Labor Overtime Rule. According to a letter from the Congress to the Secretary of Labor, the Labor Department's proposal, due to be released in final form in July, would more than double the salary threshold to $50,440 per year, up from $23,660. With implementation of this rule, about five million workers would become newly eligible for overtime pay. In addition, the minimum salary would automatically increase each year to match the 40th percentile of the average salary earned by full-time employees in the United States.
Have you heard about the brand new eMarketplace coming to MSAE?
This eMarketplace will be an online store that provides a one-stop-shop for accessing millions of discounted products and services such as office supplies, promotional merchandise, photo and video equipment, and even payroll and accounting software. Each of these products and services offer better pricing and contract and terms and conditions than our members could likely secure on their own.
Welcome to March! A repeal was introduced to combat Unrelated Business Income Tax, minimum wage advocates reignite 2018 Lame Duck debate, and Governor Whitmer released her 2019 budget recommendation.