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House Approves Exempting White-Collar Workers from Overtime

Despite strong opposition from progressive, feminist, and labor groups, the US House on Thursday voted 213-210, defeating Democratic attempts to block President Bush’s proposed Department of Labor (DOL) rule change that would exempt nearly 8 million from overtime wages, reported Knight Ridder. In the heavily contentious debate pitting labor against business, Rep. George Mill (D-CA) insisted, “Overtime is not a luxury, it is a necessity for many American families,” according to the New York Times.

The proposed change secures overtime pay for 1.3 million more low-wage workers by raising the annual salary limit from $8,060 to $22,100; however, it reclassifies millions of white-collar workers “holding a position of responsibility” in various industries-including aerospace, defense, health care, police, hospital, retail, and high tech-exempting 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. Opposition groups including NOW and the AFL-CIO say they will continue to oppose proposals that are harmful to millions of working families.

Meanwhile, House Republicans have pledged to bring the so-called Family Time Flexibility Act (H.R. 1119) up again.

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Sources:

Knight Ridder 7/11/03; NY Times 7/11/03; AP 7/11/03; Feminist Daily News Wire