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Wendy Madea

Playing games with OT

Lawmakers siding with big business to screw over working stiffs

Brian Young's picture
Sep 30, 2016

Whether or not an employee is entitled to overtime has been a hotly debated topic over the last few years.  Many companies tried to get around the overtime rules by classifying their workers as managers on a salary.  By doing this the company could work them to the bone without increasing their wages.  Some worked them so much that the employees were actually making less than the minimum wage.  The Obama administration sought earlier in the year to change who was eligible for overtime so that it included more of these people, but now Congress is playing games to try and prevent hard working men and women from getting the pay that they deserve. 

As UCOMM Blog previously reported, the Obama administration in May announced new rules that would have extended overtime protection 4.2 million people. This rule meant that many middle class families would see raises or would gain a better work life balance as their company cut back extra hours that they would now have to pay.  The policy is set to kick in on December 1.

With the policy just weeks away, Congressional Republicans have started to play games to delay the implementation of the rule.  Politico reports that this week, three similar bills were introduced one which would put off enforcing the rule until June, one that would stop the implementation for two years and one that would phase in the overtime increases over the next five years along with a requirement that the Government Accountability Office conduct an economic impact study during the first year of the new standard. The bill to delay implementation until June passed the House by a vote of 246-177 and has a companion bill in the Senate already. These bills all come as after business groups and 21 states announced a lawsuit last week to prevent the new overtime regulations from being enacted. 

Those opposed to the bill are clinging to the notion that it will hurt the bottom line for their businesses. Robin Roberts, director of media relations at the National Retail Federation, said, "lawmakers are hearing how this extreme rule will negatively impact not just businesses in their districts, but also nonprofits, local governments, colleges and universities, many of which have very fixed budgets and no means to absorb sudden new payroll costs."

The simple fact is that these businesses and groups have been ripping off their workers for years.  According to the AFL-CIO, since the 1970’s companies have sought to weaken overtime protection so that they can essentially get free labor from their workers.  Dunkin Donuts is currently facing a lawsuit from some of their workers who were classified as exempt managers, but the only did non-exempt work. One of the employees who brought the suit claimed that she worked on average 75 hours a week while 90% of her work was non-exempt.  They claim the company did this to skirt overtime laws.

When companies and Congress play games like this all they do is hurt their workers.  While corporate profits rise, wages have stagnated thanks to games like these being played.  Once again, Congress has shown that they care more about making sure their donors profit can increase then protecting the voters of their districts.

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