- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Proposals
by President George W. Bush that could end overtime protections for 8 million
U.S. workers top the U.S. Senate's agenda this week.
- Before Congress adjourned in August, Sen. Tom Harkin,
D-Iowa, and Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., introduced legislation (S. 1485)
that would block the Bush-backed Labor Department proposal to gut the Fair
Labor Standards Act's overtime pay protections. The Harkin-Kennedy bill
will be offered as an amendment to the fiscal year 2004 Labor, Health,
Human Services and Education appropriations bill (H.R. 2660).
- "Employers are hiring fewer workers here in the
U.S. and working them longer -- and now the Bush administration is trying
to make it cheaper for them to work employees even longer with its proposed
changes to overtime rules," AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said
during a Labor Day press conference.
- Although the Bush administration claims changes to the
overtime rules would affect only 644,000 workers, the nonprofit Economic
Policy Institute (EPI) found the number of workers who will lose overtime
pay is closer to 8 million.
- "The DOL recognizes that this conversion from hourly
to salaried will occur, but it woefully underestimates how significant
the change in the workforce will likely be," according to the EPI
- Those who could lose overtime pay involve a wide range
of workers, including nurses, firefighters, retail clerks and engineering
- Under, the Bush proposal, workers who lose their overtime
rights also could face unpredictable work schedules and reduced pay because
of an increased demand for extra hours -- time for which employers would
not have to compensate workers, according to EPI.
- Workers making more than $22,100 a year could be denied
overtime pay under the proposed changes if they are reclassified as professional,
administrative or executive employees exempt from federal overtime rules.
- After the Labor Department announced its plan to take
away overtime pay in March, it received more than 80,000 comments by the
close of the public comment period June 30 -- and acknowledges most are
against the proposal.
- During the August congressional recess, activists from
local unions, central labor councils and state federations distributed
worksite fliers about the overtime attack, encouraged workers to contact
their lawmakers and made lobbying visits to congressional district offices.
- For more information: http://www.aflcio.org