We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded. Right now, too many Americans are working long days for less pay than they deserve. That’s partly because we’ve failed to update overtime regulations for years — and an exemption meant for highly paid, white collar employees now leaves out workers making as little as $23,660 a year — no matter how many hours they work.
This week, I’ll head to Wisconsin to discuss my plan to extend overtime protections to nearly 5 million workers in 2016, covering all salaried workers making up to about $50,400 next year. That’s good for workers who want fair pay, and it’s good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren’t.
That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. That’s at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.
That’s the threshold Ross Eisenbrey and I thought made the most sense, as we explain here.
The WH says they expect the change to reach as many as 5 million middle-wage workers. Believe me, you’d be very hard pressed to come up with a rule change or executive order—i.e., non-legislation—to lift the pay of this many folks.
That’s important, because we live in a time when the bargaining power of many who depend on their paychecks is much diminished relative to the clout and power of those whose income derives from their wealth portfolios.
Of course, this isn’t the first time in our history when such conditions prevailed. In fact, the Fair Labor Standards Act that introduced the national OT rule was born of the notion that one role of government was to help reset the imbalance in bargaining power–to stand up for those who, absent rules like OT, risked exploitation, overwork, and inability to claim their fair share of the productivity growth they themselves were helping to generate.
President Obama just put his thumb on the scale on behalf of working people. And for that he deserves our thanks.