Last week, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) unveiled a proposal to set the overtime salary threshold, beneath which almost all workers are entitled to overtime pay, at $679 per week, or $35,308 for a full-year worker starting in 2020.
This is a significant change to the rule proposed under the Obama administration back in 2016, which would have made all salaried workers earning less than $47,476 entitled to overtime pay. The Trump proposal also falls far short of Governor Wolf’s plan, initiated last June, to phase in an increase in the Pennsylvania salaried to about $48,000 starting in January 2020.
According to an Economic Policy Institute analysis, the Trump proposal would leave behind an estimated 8.2 million workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the USDOL regulations finalized in 2016, including about 300,000 workers here in Pennsylvania. These 8.2 million workers include 4.2 million women, 3.0 million people of color, 4.7 million workers without a college degree, and 2.7 million parents of children under the age of 18. Further, because the Trump proposal does not automatically index the threshold going forward, the number of workers left behind grows from 8.2 million in 2020 to an estimated 11.5 million over the first 10 years of implementation.
”Candidate Trump effectively highlighted workers’ frustration with an economy rigged against them but President Trump’s overtime proposal keeps the economy rigged that way,” said Stephen Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center. “It hurts some of the most dedicated American employees who work long hours to keep businesses large and small operating smoothly. In Pennsylvania, thankfully, Gov. Wolf’s leadership means that these underpaid and unfairly treated salaried employees will finally catch a break next year.”
In recent polling conducted on behalf of the National Employment Law Project by Hart Research Associates in competitive congressional districts, voters expressed overwhelming support for the Obama-era regulations as opposed to the Trump USDOL proposal. By a margin of 76-16, respondents favored guaranteeing overtime pay to workers earning up to $47,000 a year over the Trump administration proposal to guarantee it only to those earning up to $35,000. Independent voters favored the Obama overtime proposal over the Trump proposal by a 71-15 margin, Republican voters by a 65-27, and Democratic voters by an 89-7 margin.