Thanks to a new rule issued this week by the Obama administration, roughly 12.5 million working Americans are very close to receiving a long overdue and much deserved raise. The administration’s overtime rule, which becomes effective December 1, more than doubles the existing overtime salary threshold from $23,660 to $47,476. That means white collar, salaried employees who earn less than $47,476 annually will now be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week. The salary threshold will be adjusted every three years. The rule represents one of the most sweeping steps taken by the administration to address income inequality in an economy that is out of balance and favors a wealthy few.
“The administration’s overtime rule will help to reverse this imbalance by helping to ensure that working people get paid for the work they already do,” said AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders in a statement. Raising the overtime threshold, Saunders said, “will not only help to restore the 40-hour work week, but also improve incomes and grow the middle class.” As President Obama explains in a message on whitehouse.gov, the rule is expected to put $12 billion more in the pockets of hardworking people during the next 10 years.
For decades, middle-class Americans have seen their wages decrease while a handful of already wealthy and powerful people get even richer. While this troubling trend persists, working people in this country are actually working longer hours and are even more productive than ever. Still, no matter how hard they work, no matter how efficient they are or how many hours they put in on the job, everyday Americans are finding it harder and harder to sustain themselves and their families, let alone get ahead.
“As someone who has worked 20 years in public service on the front line in my community, I believe my colleagues and I deserve respect, dignity and fair treatment and wages,” said Leslie Tilton, an Ohio Department of Corrections Employee and OCSEA member who attended an event to promote the rule, in Ohio with Vice Pres. Joe Biden, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and Sen. Sherrod Brown. “That’s why as a union we fight to achieve that goal every day, not just for ourselves, but for our communities and other hard-working people across the country.”
Tilton has seen friends and family, including parents with young children, struggle under the burden of working long hours without being compensated fairly. “That kind of situation puts a tremendous and unfair burden on a working family. I think the rule speaks very highly of the administration’s commitment to help reinforce the continuing contributions of the labor movement to all working people in this country.”
Immediately after the overtime rule was released, right-wing members of Congress announced preparations to block the rule. AFSCME will vigorously oppose any attempts to overturn this economic boost for working families.