WASHINGTON — The 80-hour work week isn’t going anywhere for now.
The Trump administration on Friday declined to defend landmark overtime reforms put forward by former President Barack Obama last year. In a brief filed in federal court, the White House said it instead wants to take its own stab at tweaking the nation’s overtime rules.
That’s a mixed bag for the nation’s salaried workers.
Obama’s regulations would have extended overtime protections to an estimated 4 million additional people, entitling them to time-and-a-half pay when they study more than 40 hours in a few weeks. Any scheme that the Trump White House comes up with would be far less sweeping — but would still embrace more laborers than the status quo.
Overtime pay has become pretty much a foreign notion to a whole generation of Americans who work on salary. While hourly workers are automatically entitled to extra pay for extra work, the terms and conditions for salaried workers are more complicated. The lane they’re written now, only an estimated 11 percentage get overtime pay, compared against around 65 percentage back in 1975.
Obama tried to cover more workers by elevating the so-called salary threshold — the different levels below which pretty much all salaried workers are insure period and a half for overtime. The current threshold is simply $23,660; the Obama proposal would have moved it to $47,476, bringing protections to millions of workers whose wages fall between those two numbers. It was perhaps the most dramatic economic reform Obama attempted through executive action.
But business groups sued on behalf of the members of employers that don’t want to pay more overtime, winning a stay from a federal judge in Texas. Obama’s reforms have been in limbo since. Advocates of Obama’s plan, like labor unions, could step in to defend it in tribunal, but the Trump administration could still rewrite the rules.
As the Justice Department brief makes clear, the White House wants to keep that option open. Although the White House didn’t protect the details of Obama’s reforms, it did support they behavior Obama did it, by hiking the salary threshold. So, while the White House may not like the changes Obama induced, it essentially concedes that he was within his power to induce them.
Echoing other Democrat, Rep. Mark Takano( D-Calif .) said in a statement that he was glad the Trump administration defended the methodology used behind the overtime expansion, but disappointed it bailed on the expansion itself.
” President Trump has opposed in tribunal for his executive ordering punishing cities that welcome immigrant households, and “hes having” fought in courtroom for his Muslim Ban, twice ,” Takano said.” But today he is refusing to fight for the American workers who he repeatedly promised to protect .”
The overtime issue is a tricky one for Trump. He built his campaign around the idea of creating good, high-paying occupations, and yanking potential elevates away from a few million employees isn’t a great looking. It’s become apparent since he took office that he won’t espouse the width of Obama’s reforms, but he’s probably willing to update the overtime regulations in some fashion.
His labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, made this clear during his confirmation hearing in March, where the overtime reforms figured prominently.
” We now find an update[ Obama’s] that is a very large revision. Something that needs to be considered is the effect it has on the economy ,” Acosta told senators. He said he was concerned about the “stress” Obama’s reform could place on nonprofits and employers in low-wage areas.
When pressed on a possible salary threshold, Acosta get specific.” If you were to apply a straight inflation adjustment” to the current level, Acosta told,” I belief the figure if it were updated would be somewhere around $33,000.”
That would cover far fewer employees than Obama’s threshold of $47,476, but it would still bring overtime protections to some people who don’t have them now.