Statement | Overtime

News from EPI Trump Labor Department proposal, released today, would prevent millions of workers from getting paid overtime

Updated March 7, 2019.

The Labor Department has just announced a proposal to set the salary threshold under which workers are entitled to overtime pay to $35,308 a year. The adoption of this new rule would leave behind millions of workers who would have gotten overtime protections under the 2016 guidelines.

The 2016 rule, which was held up in court following a challenge by business trade associations and Republican-led states, would have increased the threshold to $913 per week—$47,476 for a full-year worker—and then indexed it to wage growth going forward. That rule was the result of an exhaustive rulemaking process spanning more than two years. During this period, DOL met with more than 200 organizations on all sides of the issue and reviewed and incorporated input from over a quarter million public comments.

Further, the 2016 rule was by no means overly expansive. In fact, it covered far fewer workers than the threshold had covered historically. In 1975, more than 60 percent of full-time salaried workers earned below the threshold. By 2016, the share of workers covered had dropped to less than 7 percent. The 2016 rule would have only partially restored this coverage, to roughly 33 percent. If the rule had simply been adjusted for inflation since 1975, today it would be over $55,000.

Despite the painstaking determination of the threshold in the 2016 rule and the fact that that threshold is well within historical norms, the Trump administration is about to publish a rule with a dramatically lower threshold. A preliminary calculation suggests that well over half of the workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule would be left behind by this rule. That means this administration is effectively turning its back on millions of workers. Trump and his cabinet are again siding with corporate interests over those of working people.

We strongly oppose this and any efforts to weaken the criteria set forth in the 2016 final rule for defining who qualifies for exemption from overtime protections. DOL does not need to undertake a new rulemaking—they just need to defend the 2016 rule, and support middle-class workers who badly need a raise.

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