Bush takes aim at overtime pay

Millions of American workers will be getting a shorter paycheck and a longer work week if the Bush administration’s proposed changes to Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) regulations are carried out. The new guidelines would enable employers to categorize even low-paid workers as “managers, administrators and professionals,” allowing them to avoid the obligation to pay time-and-a-half for all time worked after 40 hours in a week.

According to AFL-CIO spokesperson Kathy Roeder, up to 3 million of the 80 million workers currently covered under the FLSA may lose their protection. “This is a pay cut for middle-class earners,” said Roeder, noting that many white collar workers earning as little as $22,000 base pay could now be in danger of being designated as “managers” and losing their overtime premium.

“The Fair Labor Standard Act was originally passed in 1938 to guarantee that the United States would operate under the standard of a 40-hour work week,” said Roeder, warning that many workers could face new overtime burdens when employers lose their financial incentive to limit the work week to 40 hours.

No legislative approval is required for the administration’s proposed new definitions of “managers” and “administrators,” but there is a 90-day comment period. Roeder noted that there has been a tremendous response from the AFL-CIO’s “e-activist” network with messages to the White House and both houses of Congress.

The author can be reached at rwood@pww.org