Thursday, August 26, 2004

Overtime confusion

You can bet someone knows what's going to happen. The guy who works for an hourly wage is in trouble. Does anyone believe that an initiative supported by the U.S. Chamber really works in the best interest of the worker? It just doesn't pass the smell test.

Editorial, Sun Journal, Aug. 26:

New overtime rules went into effect for millions of American workers on Monday.

Described by the Bush administration and the Department of Labor as a much needed update to workplace rules that will end costly litigation over who is entitled to time-and-a-half pay and when, so far the results have just added to the confusion.

According to Labor Department estimates, 107,000 people are no longer eligible for overtime pay, while thousands of low-paid and previously titled "managers" now are covered. Liberal activists, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Economic Policy Institute, say 6 million workers are losing OT. That's a huge difference, and the truth will be sorted as the rules are challenged in court. Many businesses are taking a wait-and-see attitude. We envision more litigation, not less.

The Fair Labor Standards Act, which hasn't been revised in more than 50 years and was passed in 1938, needed modernization. But we fear the changes in the law will take money out of the pockets of men and women who are paid by the hour.

Overtime is meant to accomplish two things: compensate workers who put in more than 40 hours a week and to encourage employers to hire more workers when they are busy.

Both goals are worthwhile, and both are threatened.

When Congress returns from recess, it should examine the new overtime rules, considering the impact on workers who depend on the extra pay to make ends meet and the effects the changes could have on employment.


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