This year has been tough, making the traditional Thanksgiving “What Are You Thankful For” toast particularly challenging. But there was a beacon of light on the horizon: On December 1, a Department of Labor rule that would extend time-and-a-half overtime pay to millions of additional hard working people was set to take effect giving working families a much needed raise. But yesterday, Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas issued a nationwide injunction blocking the rule from going into effect. So there goes my Thanksgiving toast.
The new overtime rule was a long-overdue, common sense update to reflect today’s economy. Under the current rule, employees in managerial and other professional positions are only eligible for overtime pay if they are paid less than $23,660 annually—a salary low enough to leave a family of four in poverty. If an employee is promoted to ‘shift supervisor’ at an annual salary of just $24,000, she could lose her overtime pay even if she were required to work over 40 hours per week. As a result of this outdated rule, millions of employees are being forced to work long hours for little pay, sacrificing time with their families and struggling to make ends meet.
The new rule would update the salary threshold–which has been increased only once since 1975–by raising it to $47,476 and providing for adjustments every three years to reflect rising wages. This update was something millions of working people–and women, in particular, as they make up the majority of those covered–had reason to be thankful for because it would boost their pay or ensure that they no longer have to work over 40 hours a week. It was estimated that 7.2 million children would benefit from their parents’ overtime coverage under the new rule.
The economy and job stability were a central theme of this fraught election. People working in America want greater job stability and dignity at work. While that desire led folks to vote (or not) in many different ways on November 8, Americans voted in strong majorities for ballot initiatives supporting greater scheduling stability, raising the minimum wage, and providing paid sick days. It is thus not surprising that polls show that 61 percent of voters also approve of the new overtime rule.
So maybe this Thanksgiving I’ll toast instead to what I am fighting for: making sure the incoming Administration listens to the American peoples’ demands for greater stability and dignity at work and vigorously defends the new overtime rule.