Why the New Overtime Proposal is a Win for Working Women

Liz Shuler Secretary-treasurer/Chief Financial Officer, AFL-CIO

For months we’ve heard that the economy is finally moving in the right direction, except for one hitch: Working people’s wages, particularly those of women, are not going up. One big reason: For years, millions of workers have clocked in more and more hours without ever seeing an extra cent in their paychecks. That’s wrong. Too many workers, most of whom are women, are seeing their finances stretched to the limit because even though they work overtime, they are not compensated for it.

Working women deserve better. The Department of Labor and President Barack Obama have taken the first step toward ensuring millions more women receive the overtime pay they have earned. By increasing the salary threshold to $50,444—meaning if you make less than that, you’re guaranteed protection—3.2 million more women will be automatically eligible for overtime. This is a major win for working women.

Too many women currently struggle to balance work and family life while working long hours, often receiving no financial compensation for overtime. The proposed increase in the overtime salary threshold will help ease that struggle by requiring employers to either respect the 40-hour workweek, giving working women more time to spend with their families, or compensate workers for their extra time on the job. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, this will be particularly beneficial for single mothers, as 28% of those women who currently work overtime will gain overtime protections under the new proposal. African-American and Latina women stand to gain the most under the updated protections, with nearly half of those women who are currently exempt from overtime receiving coverage under the new law. 

Nearly 40% of women serve as the primary breadwinners in their homes, and no woman who works full-time should struggle to provide for herself or her family. Sadly, that is the reality for too many women. The updated overtime rule proposed by the Department of Labor will provide millions of women and their families with the economic security they’ve worked hard to achieve. Raising wages for both men and women through increasing overtime pay will strengthen the economy overall and ensure that all working people are able to live in dignity.

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This has been reposted from the AFL-CIO.

Liz Shuler is the secretary-treasurer/chief financial officer of the AFL-CIO, one of three top-level officers for the federation and the first-ever woman elected to the position. Coming from Portland, Ore., Liz has been at the forefront of such progressive labor initiatives as green jobs programs and the fight for workers’ rights for many years, starting as a political activist and an organizer at the local union level.

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

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