Don’t Let Congress Run Out the Clock on Overtime
03/04/2016 - The APWU is asking union members to sign a petition sponsored by the AFL-CIO that calls on President Obama and the Department of Labor to move quickly to implement a new overtime rule that will increase workers' pay.
Millions of Americans have been working overtime but not getting paid for it. Currently, only employees who earn $23,660 or less automatically qualify for overtime pay; salaried workers who earn more than that don’t receive overtime pay if they are classified as executives, administrators or professionals. The exemption has motivated employers to misclassify employees to avoid paying billions of dollars in overtime.
“Although the rule will not change how APWU members are paid, the new mandate will have a significant impact on our neighbors and our communities,” said APWU Human Relations Director Sue Carney.
Under the new rule, all salaried workers, regardless of their job titles or duties, will be eligible for overtime pay if they earn $50,440 or less. The new threshold will have the biggest impact on administrative and office workers and employees who work in leisure, hospitality, service and trade industries. According to American Prospect, the change will be especially beneficial to women, minorities, and less-educated workers – who historically have had much less bargaining power to improve their working conditions.
But there are some in Congress who would rather run down the clock in order to steal this victory for working families. The Congressional Review Act dictates that all major rules are delayed for 60 legislative days after they are submitted to Congress and are subject to a “fast track” process for repeal. If President Obama and the Department of Labor don’t finalize the rule and act soon, Congress is likely to reverse this critical protection for millions of working families.
Twenty-four senators, including Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Al Franken (D-MN) recently sent a letter to Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez requesting he issue the final rule as soon as possible – extending overtime protections to millions of workers for the first time in decades, Politico reported.
The new rule would benefit 13.5 million workers. It would grant overtime rights to an estimated 5.2 million workers and make it more difficult for employers to deny overtime compensation to another 8.3 million workers who are already eligible.
“The labor movement has a responsibility to be a voice for all workers,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “We need to make sure the rule is implemented before President Obama leaves office or we risk losing these protections altogether.”