When the Department of Labor issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at the end of March 2003, EPI tried to understand how it could conclude that only 644,000 employees would lose their right to overtime pay. The proposal makes radical changes in the law, but the DOL regulatory analysis does not reflect them. So EPI analyzed the changes ourselves, with the help of a team of experts. EPI’s analysis determined that if this proposal became law, more than 8 million workers would lose overtime protection.
A subsequent analysis by EPI also concluded that the Department of Labor’s claim that 1.3 million low income workers would stand to gain overtime pay from their proposal is untrue. In fact, the number of low-income workers who would benefit from DOL’s proposal is certainly less than 737,000, and probably much smaller.
Comments filed by employer organizations support EPI’s conclusion that the proposal will lead to employers disqualifying workers from earning overtime pay. For example, Hewitt Associates, a leading human resources consultant, wrote in a memo to clients: “In any event, these proposed changes likely will open the door for employers to reclassify a large number of previously nonexempt employees as exempt. The resulting effect on compensation and morale could be detrimental, as employees previously accustomed to earning, in some cases, significant amounts of overtime pay would suddenly lose that opportunity.”
On September 9, 2003, the Senate voted to block any of the provisions in the new rules that would deny workers overtime pay. The House, on October 1, reversed a previous vote and voted to instruct negotiators, when they meet with the Senate to reconcile differences over the Labor Department’s appropriations, to support the Senate’s language to block the new proposal from stripping workers of their overtime rights.
The Administration however, threatened to veto any bill that included the Harkin amendment. Under the threat of a veto, on January 22, 2004, the Harkin amendment was stripped from the appropriations bill and the massive federal spending bill was passed. The Department of Labor announced that it expects to issue the final rules by the end of March. Efforts to block the government’s plan to deny workers their overtime rights continue.
Recent EPI work on overtime issues:
Final overtime rules strip protection from millions of workers
On April 23, the Department of Labor published regulatory changes that, if they are allowed to take effect, could strip away the right to overtime pay for over six million workers. The original version of these rules, proposed by the Bush Administration in March 2003, would have stripped overtime protection from eight million workers. The result was widespread public opposition, and the administration promised that its final version of the rules would correct this problem, a promise it has failed to keep. For an analysis of the final overtime rule changes, read EPI’s Briefing Paper, Longer Hours, Less Pay.
Read EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey’s written testimony delivered on May 4, 2004 before the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, On the Department of Labor’s Final Overtime Regulations: Preliminary Analysis of DOL’s Final Rule on Overtime Exemptions.
Read the January 20, 2004 testimony on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule on overtime pay presented by EPI senior economist Jared Bernstein before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations.
Read The Truth Behind the Administration’s Numbers on Overtime Pay, an explanation of the vast difference between Department of Labor and EPI estimates of the number of workers that would be affected by DOL’s proposed overtime regulation.
Read the December 11, 2003 testimony on the Department of Labor’s proposed overtime regulation presented by EPI vice president Ross Eisenbrey before the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee.
Read the EPI Briefing Paper,
Eliminating the right to overtime pay. Read a summary of the paper’s findings in the News Release.
Read the July 31, 2003 testimony of EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey before the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Read the December 5, 2003 op-ed about Bush administration’s changes to the rules governing overtime pay.
Read EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey’s October 29 letter of explanation to House Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, regarding inquiries about the Department of Labor’s proposed revisions to overtime regulations.
Read the February 14, 2003 op-ed, Just What the Worker Needs — Longer Days, No Overtime.
Read the August 31, 2003 op-ed, Sad Labor Day for Working Americans