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August 23, 2004
War of Words Continues on OT Rules

Today, employers face the deadline for complying with new rules governing who is eligible for overtime, but debate over the rules continues among politicians, the New York Times reports.

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Many Democrats continue to oppose the new rules, saying they would strip overtime from too many Americans.

During a weekly radio address by Democrats, Senator John Edwards, the Democratic candidate for vice president, urged others to oppose the new rules.

"Why would anyone want to take overtime pay away from as many as six million Americans at a time when they need that money the most?" says Edwards. "And why would anyone support this new rule which could mean a pay cut for millions of Americans who have already seen their real wages drop again this year?"

Presidential candidate John Kerry has urged President Bush to reject the new rules.

The A.F.L.-C.I.O., a federation of labor unions, says it will hold a news conference and distribute flyers to voice its opposition to the rules, the newspaper reports.

Employers and business groups have generally embraced the new overtime rules, saying they are a much needed update to the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Bush administration is standing by its overhaul of the overtime-exemption rules of the FLSA. The Labor Department says the new rules clarify who is eligible for overtime and will reduce the number of lawsuits over overtime.

"We view this as a step in the right direction for bringing clarity and certainty to this area of the law so there can be greater compliance," says Alfred Robinson, director of the Labor Department's wage and hour division. "And that's good for employers and employees. I'd rather focus on that than the spin and the politics."

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