The Trump Administration is Trying to Take Away the Rights of Millions of Americans to Get Paid for Their Overtime

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The Trump Administration is Trying to Take Away the Rights of Millions of Americans to Get Paid for Their Overtime

WASHINGTON - This morning, the Trump administration filed a “Request for Information” in an effort to weaken or kill the badly-needed update to the overtime pay rule.

Back in 1975, President Gerald Ford’s Labor Department set the level at which workers could be exempt from overtime to the equivalent of about $58,000 in today’s dollars, high enough to cover more than 50 percent of full-time salaried workers. However, by 2016, far too many salaried workers were not covered by overtime protections because the salary threshold had not kept up with wage growth or inflation. The Obama-era rule set it at $47,476—high enough to cover about 34 percent of full-time salaried employees, but lower than the level that it was in the 1970s.

The Trump administration has refused to fully implement and enforce the updated rule—first by not challenging a lawsuit and now by opening up a wasteful request for information. By opening up this request for information, the Trump administration is trying to take away the ability of millions of hard working Americans to get overtime pay or more time with their families. The Labor Department does not need more information about overtime pay—they need to support middle-class workers who badly need a raise.

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Notably, the RFI asks for input on whether multiple standards would be acceptable. The whole point of having national standards is to ensure decent basic standards for all workers. The updated overtime standard is already linked to the lowest-wage Census region. Workers’ should not be undercut even further by weakening the salary threshold.

President Trump likes to put workers in photo ops, but instead of sticking up for the middle class, he sides with the CEOs and top executives who want to keep pay low and force workers to work unpaid overtime. The updated overtime rule is exactly what we need for workers to get a fair return on their hard work. It’s time to fully implement and enforce the updated overtime rule.

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The Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit Washington D.C. think tank, was created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers. Today, with global competition expanding, wage inequality rising, and the methods and nature of work changing in fundamental ways, it is as crucial as ever that people who work for a living have a voice in the economic discourse.

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