April 29—During a U.S. House of Representatives hearing April 28, the Bush administration refused to guarantee that workers who currently have overtime protections would not lose them under the administration’s new overtime regulations.
Responding to questions by members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao reiterated the Bush administration’s opposition to a proposal by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to allow updates to the Fair Labor Standards Act’s rules that govern overtime eligibility but ensure no workers currently eligible for overtime lose their overtime pay.
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said Chao used her appearance before the committee to continue “to tell half-truths about whether workers are at risk of losing overtime pay….The regulation will make it easier for corporations to slash overtime pay for many workers.”
After a yearlong drive to take away workers’ overtime pay rights, the Bush administration published its new overtime rules April 23 and they will go into effect in late August. But Democratic congressional leaders have vowed to continue fighting the Bush overtime pay grab.
As early as next week, the Senate may vote on the Harkin amendment to the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC) tax legislation (S. 1637). The amendment guarantees workers’ current overtime rights, while allowing any part of the new Bush regulation that expands overtime eligibility to go into effect. The amendment would apply retroactively, so it could still block the portions of the Bush regulation that take away overtime pay.