The Labor Department has received over 80,000 comments responding its proposed
changes to the rules on overtime. The Washington Post conducted a review of
23,000 of these comments and found that most of the mail expressed opposition
to the proposed rules.
While many of the comments are form letters created by business groups and
labor groups, many comments are personal stories from individuals who fear they
may lose their overtime pay, according to the newspaper. The letters come from
people from a variety of backgrounds, including nurses, stay-at-home moms, prison
guards, and executives.
"The 40-hour week was enshrined in American labor law during the Great
Depression," wrote Ron A. Nerad, who works in the field of computer systems
in St. Louis. "It's still a good idea. Workers who labor longer deserve
premium pay. Why? Because it creates an incentive for the employer to treat
the employee's time with respect!"
The Labor Department says the volume of letters did not come as surprise.
"It's not surprising when you propose a change to something that has been
in place for 54 years," says Victoria A. Lipnic, assistant labor secretary
for employment standards. "You can expect some vigorous debate about it.
Overtime is important to people, and we know that. . . . We really welcome the
Some letters from business groups in support of the changes asked for additional
language that would specifically exempt certain jobs from overtime pay. The
Newspaper Association of America, for example, requested language in the new
rules specifying that editors, writers and photographers, are not eligible for
overtime compensation, according to the newspaper.
The department tells the newspaper it will review all the comments and consider
them before issuing its final regulations.