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New Overtime Rules Could Give Texans Pay Raise

PHOTO: Health care and other workers in Texas could see a pay raise if new U.S. Labor Department rules for overtime pay are implemented. Photo credit: jaytaix/pixabay.com
PHOTO: Health care and other workers in Texas could see a pay raise if new U.S. Labor Department rules for overtime pay are implemented. Photo credit: jaytaix/pixabay.com
May 7, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas - The U.S. Department of Labor announced this week it was updating rules for paying overtime, a proposal backed by the Obama administration. Current rules exclude overtime pay for a wide range of salaried workers who earn more than $455 a week.

Ed Sills, director of communications with the Texas AFL CIO, welcomes the rule change and says Texans need a raise.

"A worker who works 60 hours a week and is earning the minimum to be exempt under the overtime law is earning just a little bit over the minimum wage," says Sills. "If you bump that up to 70 hours a week, they're making a sub-minimum wage."

The Labor Department announced it had finished its work updating rules and will be seeking public feedback. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce already is at the front of the line, arguing new overtime rules would lead to fewer jobs, and any increased earnings would mean pay cuts for other workers.

Adjusting overtime exemptions could dramatically increase the take-home pay for millions of low-level supervisors in retail, fast food, health care and other industries eligible for overtime pay. Sills says the problem with the current salary exemption level is that it's never been adjusted for inflation.

"There was a time when $455 a week was a solid middle-class salary," he says. "But we're many years past that time at this point and this update is long overdue."

Sills argues it's a moral issue, that workers should not have to put in 60 to 70 hours a week and take home sub-poverty wages. The next step is for the proposal to be entered into the Federal Register. The new rules could go into effect by the end of the year.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - TX