A Senate provision blocking new Department of Labor (DOL) rules that cut off 8 million workers from overtime pay rights was removed from the Fiscal Year 2004 Omnibus Appropriations bill as part of negotiations to settle the final budget. The Senate version of the Labor, HHS Appropriations, which is one of the seven appropriations bills that make up the Omnibus Appropriations bill, included a provision that would have blocked a DOL rule change governing overtime pay. The Associated Press reports that Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the main Republican opponent of the DOL’s new overtime pay rules, agreed on Friday to remove the Senate provision blocking the rule change from the final Omnibus Appropriations bill.
The DOL rule change reclassifies millions of white-collar workers “holding a position of responsibility” in various industries-including aerospace, defense, health care, police, hospital, retail, journalism, and high tech, which exempts them from time-and-a-half overtime wages (beyond the normal 40 hour work week). In addition, employers are granted complete discretion to work these employees almost unlimited hours with lost income and reduced flexibility. Congressional Quarterly reports that the House is expected to pass the Omnibus Appropriations bill on December 8, but the Senate will put off a vote until January leaving most federal agencies operating on fiscal year 2003 levels.
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