U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Mark Takano (D-CA) today reintroduced legislation to make millions of American workers newly eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Their Restoring Overtime Pay Act would increase the overtime salary level from $23,660 per year to roughly $51,000 per year, making roughly 4.6 million workers newly eligible for overtime pay.
This bill codifies the Obama Administration's 2016 overtime rule, which would have strengthened overtime protections for millions of workers. However, a November 2016 ruling out of a federal district court in Texas prevented the rule from being implemented.
Murray, Brown, Scott and Takano first introduced this bill last Congress. This reintroduction comes at a time when the Trump administration is proposing to deny millions of workers the overtime pay they have earned. Most recently, the Trump administration proposed an overtime threshold that is not nearly high enough and would deny low- to middle- income workers potential wages they have earned or more time with their families.
"Millions of workers put in more than 40 hours a week and are still unable to makes ends meet and support their families," said Sen. Murray. "While the Trump Administration continues to put corporations and billionaires ahead of working families, I'm proud to introduce the Restoring Overtime Pay Act to provide a much-needed update to our nation's overtime rules and give millions of families the financial security they need."
"People who work 50 or 60 hours a week should be paid the wages they've earned. Period," said Sen. Brown. "By failing to stand up for workers and defend the overtime rule, the President is failing to put workers first and is driving down the value of work. Our bill would fix this, and make sure workers are paid for every hour they put in."
"Restoring overtime protections for workers reflects our commitment to creating an economy that works for everyone," said Chairman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott. "Unfortunately, rather than supporting the strong protections included in the Obama-era overtime rule, the Trump administration issued a new proposal that would leave 8.2 million workers behind, depriving them of a combined $1.6 billion in lost wages in the next year alone. The Restoring Overtime Pay Act would codify the salary level set in the 2016 Obama overtime rule and guarantee that more salaried workers get the overtime pay they deserve."
"American workers cannot afford to get cheated out of the pay they earned for the extra hours they worked," said Rep. Mark Takano. "Overtime standards are long overdue for a meaningful update that will protect more workers and put money back in the pockets of millions of middle-class families. We must return to the fundamental American belief in fair pay for a hard day's work and this legislation will help us get closer to achieving that."
In March, Brown and Murray blasted DOL when it announced plans to set the salary threshold under which workers would be guaranteed overtime pay at $35,308, down from a threshold of $47,476 that would have been set by the Obama Administration. The public comment period for this rule ended in May, and the Senators have continued to fight this proposed rule. Brown and Murray along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led 20 Senators in writing a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), urging it to withdraw a proposed rule that would deprive an estimated 3 million workers of the overtime pay they have earned.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a preliminary calculation suggests that well over half of the workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under the 2016 rule would be left behind by this proposed Trump administration rule. This means the administration's rule would leave out millions of workers.
The Restoring Overtime Pay Act strengthens overtime protections by attaching the salary level to the 40th percentile of wages in the lowest wage census region. The bill also requires automatic updates every three years to ensure the level remains in line with the changes in our economy. This means that if the bill were enacted today, the salary level would increase from $23,660 per year to $51,064 per year in 2020, making at least four million workers newly eligible for overtime.
The level for overtime pay is out-of-date and does not support working families who are struggling to make ends meet. Only full-time, salaried workers who currently earn $455 or less per week or $23,660 annually are automatically guaranteed overtime pay when working over 40 hours per week. The Restoring Overtime Pay Act will help ensure workers are paid for every hour they spend on the job.