National Consumers League

NCL commends President Obama for regs on overtime and updating other labor laws

March 14, 2014

Contact: NCL Communications, Ben Klein, (202) 835-3323, benk@nclnet.org

Washington, DC – The National Consumers League (NCL) applauds President Obama for directing the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to revise and update outdated, Depression-era overtime laws and tighten the loopholes in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). NCL, the nation’s pioneering worker and consumer advocacy organization, commends the President for using his executive power to call for this positive step forward for millions of American workers.

“President Obama’s directive is a giant step for the millions of Americans who work full time and yet still struggle to make ends meet,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of NCL. “With Congress conflicted on these issues, an executive order will require businesses to pay workers what they earn for any additional hours they work.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, who had previously served as NCL secretary, crafted the FLSA, which was signed into law in 1938. It was created to give Americans basic workplace rights including a federal minimum wage, overtime protections, bans against child labor, and record-keeping mandates to keep businesses honest about the number of hours employees worked.

When originally constructed, the overtime statute in the FLSA included a pay threshold and three job classification exemptions: executive, professional, and administrative. Today, many employers avoid paying their employees overtime by exploiting the exemptions in the FLSA. By manipulating job titles and descriptions, employers avoid paying many employees who work over a 40-hour workweek one and a half times the normal hourly rate for the extra hours.

Millions of other workers are exempt from overtime rules if they make more than $455 a week or $23,660 a year, which is still below the poverty line for a family of four.

“For decades, Americans’ wages have stagnated, even as worker productivity has soared,” said Michell McIntyre, NCL’s Outreach Director, Labor and Worker Rights. “The changes in the exemptions to overtime pay could make all the difference for families struggling to make ends meet. This is an important step. It is time to give Americans a raise.”

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About the National Consumers League 
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Its mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.