Democrats and labor groups say they will continue efforts to block new overtime
regulations that the Bush administration issued this week, the Boston Globe
The Labor Department published final rules that were scaled back from its initial
proposal of March 2003. The Bush administration contends fewer workers would
lose overtime under the final rules than would have under the proposed rules.
However, Democrats in Congress and labor groups remain opposed to the new rules,
contending too many workers would lose the right to overtime.
"We hold open all of our options, one of which would be litigation,"
says Christine Owens, public policy director at the AFL-CIO. "If we determine
after looking at the regulations that it makes sense, we will file a lawsuit."
Meanwhile, Senators Edward Kennedy and Tom Harkin say they will reintroduce
an amendment to block new rules that take away overtime from workers, the newspaper
reports. The rules
become effective in 120 days from publication in the Federal Register, which
has yet to occur.
The new rules increase
the salary threshold below which workers are generally guaranteed overtime
to $23,660, up from $8,060 under current rules and up from the $21,100 threshold
proposed in the initial draft. The Bush administration contends 1.3 million
workers would gain overtime eligibility.
Democrats argue that because of inflation and new exemption tests, fewer workers
would be guaranteed overtime as time passes, the newspaper reports.
"If the White House genuinely wanted to protect low-wage workers, the
overtime rule would simply increase the minimum salary threshold at least to
inflation," Kennedy says.
Democrats tell the Associated Press that they also oppose rules that state
that specific white-collar occupations--including pharmacists, financial services
industry workers, insurance claims adjusters, and human resource managers--are generally
exempt from the overtime rules.
The department says case law has determined that those occupations are exempt,
but critics disagree, the AP notes.
Business groups have generally embraced the new rules, saying they will clarify
who is eligible for overtime and will reduce the number of lawsuits over overtime.