05.18.16

Murray: New Overtime Protections will Boost Wages, Expand Economic Security for Millions

New salary threshold will expand overtime benefits to 76,000 Washingtonians, 4.2 million workers across the country

 

Murray: “…when workers have economic security – when they are able to make ends meet and succeed, businesses succeed and our economy succeeds.”

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, delivered remarks on the Senate floor praising the Department of Labor’s final overtime rule. The new rule raises the salary threshold to $47,476, expanding overtime eligibility to 4.2 million workers and boosting wages for workers by $12 billion over the next 10 years. Murray has been a leading voice in Congress encouraging the Obama Administration to update overtime protections.

 

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Today, just 7 percent of salaried workers have that protection. And big corporations use these outdated overtime rules to their advantage. They force their employees to work overtime, without paying them the fair time-and-a-half pay. That might be good for a big corporation’s profit margin. But it is detrimental to a working family’s economic security. The Department of Labor has issued a final rule to raise the salary threshold from about $23,000 to just over $47,000 a year. That will restore overtime protections for millions of Americans.”

 

“When workers put in more than 40 hours a week on the job, they should be paid fairly for it. That’s the bottom line. I’ve heard from some of my Republican colleagues that they do not want to update the overtime rules. If you listen closely, the Republicans will try to argue that businesses in this country can’t operate unless they are able to exploit workers’ time and refuse them overtime pay. But Democrats fundamentally disagree. In fact, when workers have economic security – when they are able to make ends meet and succeed, businesses succeed and our economy succeeds. That virtuous cycle is part of what makes America great.”

 

If Republicans want to take away this basic worker protection, they will have to answer to the millions of hardworking Americans putting in overtime without receiving a dime in extra pay. They can try – but I know that I, and many others – are going to be right here fighting back for the workers and families we represent. Families like Meryle’s from Bellingham Washington. Meryle said early in her career she worked low-wage jobs. And oftentimes, her overtime hours went unpaid. When she heard about the Obama Administration updating overtime protections, she wrote in to comment on the new rule. She said those unpaid overtime hours hurt her pocketbook. But she said she lost more than money. She was working overtime without being paid fairly for it, on top of missing out on important time with her daughter.”

 

“M. President, boosting wages and expanding economic stability and security is good for families, and it’s good for our economy…For families who are looking for some much-needed economic security, I urge all of my colleagues to support restoring overtime protections.”

 

Full text of Senator Murray’s remarks:

 

“Thank you, M. President.

 

“I believe that real, long-term economic growth is built from the middle out, not the top down.

 

“And our government, our economy, and our workplaces should work for all families, not just the wealthiest few.

 

“But, M. President, across the country today, millions of workers are working harder than ever without basic overtime protections.

 

“That is why I am proud to come to the floor today to express my strong support for the new overtime rule to help millions of workers and families in our country.

 

“M. President, in 1938, Congress recognized the need for overtime pay.

 

“Because without overtime protections, corporations were able to exploit workers’ time to increase profits.

“So, the Fair Labor Standards Act set a standard 40-hour workweek.

 

“And by law, when workers put in more than 40 hours, their employers had to compensate them fairly with time-and-a-half pay.

 

“But those protections have eroded over the past several decades.

 

“In today’s economy, many Americans feel like they are working more and more for less and less pay, and in many cases, they are.

 

“Right now, if a salaried worker earns just a little more than $23,000 a year, he or she is not guaranteed time-and-a-half pay.

 

“That salary threshold is much too low.

 

“In fact, it is less than the poverty level for a family of four.

 

“M. President, workers should not have to earn poverty wages to get guaranteed overtime protections.

 

“It’s clear that overtime rules are severely out of date.

 

“Consider this: Back in the mid-1970s, 62 percent of salaried workers had guaranteed overtime pay.

 

“Today, just 7 percent of salaried workers have that protection. 

 

“And big corporations use these outdated overtime rules to their advantage.

 

“They force their employees to work overtime, without paying them the fair time-and-a-half pay.

 

“That might be good for a big corporation’s profit margin.

 

“But it is detrimental to a working family’s economic security.

 

“The Department of Labor has issued a final rule to raise the salary threshold from about $23,000 to just over $47,000 a year.

 

“That will restore overtime protections for millions of Americans.

 

“And this is especially important for parents.

 

“Think about what it would mean for a working mom who, right now, works overtime without getting paid for it.

 

“By restoring this basic worker protection, she could finally work a 40-hour workweek and spend more time with her kids.

 

“Or, if her employer asks her to work more than 40 hours a week, she would have more money in her pocket to boost her family’s economic security.

 

“This is so important for strengthening the middle class.

 

“When workers put in more than 40 hours a week on the job, they should be paid fairly for it.

 

“That’s the bottom line.

 

“I’ve heard from some of my Republican colleagues that they do not want to update the overtime rules.

 

“If you listen closely, the Republicans will try to argue that businesses in this country can’t operate unless they are able to exploit workers’ time and refuse them overtime pay.

 

“But Democrats fundamentally disagree.

 

“In fact, when workers have economic security – when they are able to make ends meet and succeed, businesses succeed and our economy succeeds.

 

“That virtuous cycle is part of what makes America great.

 

‘If Republicans want to take away this basic worker protection, they will have to answer to the millions of hardworking Americans putting in overtime without receiving a dime in extra pay.

 

“They can try – but I know that I, and many others – are going to be right here fighting back for the workers and families we represent.

 

“Families like Meryle’s from Bellingham Washington.

 

“Meryle said early in her career she worked low-wage jobs.

 

“And oftentimes, her overtime hours went unpaid.

 

“When she heard about the Obama Administration updating overtime protections, she wrote in to comment on the new rule.

 

“She said those unpaid overtime hours hurt her pocketbook.

 

“But she said she lost more than money.

 

“She was working overtime without being paid fairly for it, on top of missing out on important time with her daughter.

 

“M. President, boosting wages and expanding economic stability and security is good for families, and it’s good for our economy.

 

“And by the way, that’s exactly what we should be focused on here in Congress to help grow our economy from the middle out, not the top down.

 

“For workers who just want fair pay for a fair day’s work;

 

“For the parents, like Meryle, who have sacrificed family time for overtime and not seen a dime in extra pay;

 

“For families who are looking for some much-needed economic security, I urge all of my colleagues to support restoring overtime protections.

 

“Thank you, M. President.”

 

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