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More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Overtime Proposal Would Add Protections for More Oregon Workers

Distinguishing hourly from salaried workers may be tough in their cubicles, but new rules proposed by the U.S. Labor Department would ensure more salaried employees receive overtime pay if they put in the work hours. Credit: tpsdave/Pixabay.com.
Distinguishing hourly from salaried workers may be tough in their cubicles, but new rules proposed by the U.S. Labor Department would ensure more salaried employees receive overtime pay if they put in the work hours. Credit: tpsdave/Pixabay.com.
July 9, 2015

SALEM, Ore. – Working more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay is a fact of life for millions of salaried employees, but it's a fact the U.S. Department of Labor wants to change.

A proposal to extend overtime benefits to salaried workers making up to about $50,000 a year is up for public comment starting this week.

Charlie Burr, communications director for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), says the new rule appears to align with current Oregon law, but it would expand the number of people eligible for overtime pay.

"At this point, we are just watching the process very closely,” he states. “We think it has great potential to help Oregon workers. We don't have plans to formally weigh in, but we are closely following it."

Right now, only workers salaried at up to about $24,000 a year are guaranteed overtime pay.

Burr says overtime questions are among the most common BOLI receives, from workers and companies. He says small employers in particular can find the overtime pay laws confusing. BOLI has a hotline (971-673-0844) to help address their questions.

The rule, an update to the Fair Labor Standards Act, is expected to affect more women and people of color.

The proposal is already receiving strong opposition from some retail and restaurant industry groups. But Kim Bobo, founding director of Interfaith Worker Justice, points out there are many positives.

"It's good for workers in terms of their family time, that a lot of folks won't be working these ridiculously long hours, and it's good for workers in terms of pay," she stresses.

The National Retail Federation has warned that some managers may be demoted from salary to hourly wages so employers can avoid the change.

While 11 million workers would qualify under the new rule, the Labor Department estimates only about 5 million would see bigger paychecks.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR