Reps. Takano, Adams, Scott and Sen. Brown Urge Secretary Walsh to Restore Overtime Pay Protections for Millions of Workers

March 25, 2021
Press Release

As originally released by the Committee on Education & Labor

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC), Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), sent a letter to Secretary Marty Walsh urging the Department of Labor to take strong action to restore overtime pay protections for millions of workers. 

In the letter they state, “In 2016, the Obama Administration’s DOL finalized a rule (Obama Rule) that would have increased the salary threshold to the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time, salaried workers in the lowest wage Census Region, a rate equaling $47,476 in 2016. This threshold represented a conservative salary threshold.  Historically, the salary threshold has ranged from the 35th to 55th percentile of weekly earnings for full-time, salaried workers nationwide. The Obama Rule, announced by then Vice President Biden in Columbus, Ohio, was nonetheless a step in the right direction after years without a meaningful update.” 

They continue, “The Obama Rule would have partially restored the value of the salary level by ensuring 33 percent of full-time salaried workers were eligible for overtime protections based on their pay.   It would have extended overtime protections to 4.2 million workers and strengthened existing overtime protections for an additional 8.9 million workers. The Obama rule would have also established automatic updates every three years to reflect increases in wages over time and ensure the salary threshold was not eroded. Unfortunately, in 2017, a Texas federal district court invalidated the Obama Rule based on flawed reasoning that rejects the jurisprudence and legislative history behind the white-collar exemption. Instead of defending the Obama Rule before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Trump Administration finalized a rule (Trump Rule) that fell far short by setting the salary level to $35,568 per year in 2020 with no automatic increases, allowing its value to be eroded over time.” 

They conclude, “As our economy recovers, it is imperative that we prioritize policies that boost pay and encourage hiring.  Extending overtime protections by raising the overtime salary threshold will boost wages for millions of lower- and middle-income salaried employees. It will also help prevent these employees from working excessive hours and instead incentivize employers to hire additional employees or shift hours to the underemployed, part-time workers who need them. That is why it is critical that the Biden Administration’s DOL pursue bold action to provide more workers with overtime protections.

The full text of the letter can be found here

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