Monday, September 22, 2003

This article came from the The Daily Misleader

Bush Administration Seeks to Unilaterally Eliminate Overtime Pay for Millions of Workers

President Bush's Department of Labor (DOL) announced in March a dramatic overhaul to the nation's overtime laws that will cause millions of workers to lose access to overtime pay. The administration claims that 644,000 workers will lose overtime eligibility1, but it's really at least 2.5 million and possibly up to 8 million workers who will lose their overtime.2

The DOL described the change as "long overdue" two years after they had come to the opposite conclusion. The proposed rule will guarantee overtime pay to 1.3 million workers who were previously ineligible.3 But the administration is failing to provide the full story or even the correct numbers about the millions of workers who will become ineligible for overtime compensation.

Bush's Labor Department claims that roughly 644,000 will become ineligible under the new rule change. But the Labor Department arrived at that figure by excluding eligible workers from its calculus, counting only those workers who currently receive overtime pay regularly, have administrative and professional duties exempt under current law, AND have at least an associate's degree.4

The Economic Policy Institute (employing the same methodology used by the Labor Department in a 2001 study and the GAO in a 1999 study) estimates a more comprehensive figure that counts all eligible workers. It shows that 2.5 million salaried workers will lose their right to overtime pay and an additional 5.5 million hourly workers are at risk of being shifted to salaried employment and losing their status - 8 million workers total.5

In sum, the gap between the Labor Department's 2001 and 2003 estimates is more than 7 million workers.6 The Republican-led Senate recently voted to block the administration's overtime rules, but President Bush has threatened to veto any funding bills that contain language to protect those workers, ensuring that millions of U.S. workers will receive less pay for the same amount of work.7

1. "Overworked, Underpaid?", Newsweek, 5/12/03.
2. "Eliminating the Right to Overtime Pay", Economic Policy Institute, 6/26/03.
3. "U.S. Department of Labor Proposal Will Secure Overtime for 1.3 Million More Low-Wage Workers", Labor Department Press Release, 3/27/03; "White House Proposes New Rules for Overtime," New York Times, 3/28/03, p. A11
4. "Eliminating the Right to Overtime Pay", Economic Policy Institute, 6/26/03.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. "Senate Votes to Block Changes to Overtime Pay Rules", Washington Post, 9/10/03.


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