Lawmaker Tries to Hold Back Worker Progress

The Teamsters lauded a plan by the U.S. Department of Labor in May to update overtime rules to cover an additional 12.5 million workers. But now some in Congress are trying to overturn it.

Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon, with the backing of big business interest groups, recently unveiled legislation that would slow the implementation of overtime expansion for those making up to $47,476. The lawmaker wants to phase it in over three years and eliminate indexing the rule so it wouldn’t automatically cover inflation in the future.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates such a move would reduce those eligible for overtime protection by 10.4 million by 2035, and that the share of the salaried workforce qualifying for overtime would be cut in half to just 16.1 percent.

“Rep. Schrader wants to reproduce the very disaster for working people the Department of Labor is seeking to prevent: an inevitable and significant loss of guaranteed overtime pay coverage due to inflation and wage growth,” said Ross Eisenbrey, an author of the new report.  “That’s why the business lobby wants the bill.”

Meanwhile, by delaying full implementation of the overtime salary threshold by three years, EPI states the bill would prevent or delay millions from receiving overtime protections. As of December, 6.3 million fewer workers would be covered. That would fall to 2.1 million by 2019 when the DOL standard is fully implemented.

It is more than unjust to stop everyday Americans from getting their fair share for working more than 40 hours a week when top corporate executives have been raking in huge salaries and bonuses at the expense of their workers for decades.

This overtime rule is just a small effort to make the playing field more level. However, Rep. Schrader and his corporate cronies are taking another shot at hard-working Americans by trying to curb their progress.