Yeah, Baby–New OT Rule is Out and It’s Strong!

Jared Bernstein Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

I’ve got a longer piece up on PostEverything, but here are the key ‘grafs from the POTUS’s announcement on this tonight (my bold):

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.

***

This has been reposted from Jared Bernstein's blog.

Jared Bernstein joined the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in May 2011 as a Senior Fellow.  From 2009 to 2011, Bernstein was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. Prior to joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. Between 1995 and 1996, he held the post of deputy chief economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including “Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?” and nine editions of “The State of Working America.”

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Jared Bernstein

Stronger Together

Stronger Together