CHN: Senate Blocks Implementation of Overtime Rules Change
During the debate on the FY 04 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, the Senate adopted an amendment that would prohibit Department of Labor funding from being used to implement any rule that would take away the right to overtime pay for any worker.The administration claims its preliminary overtime rule changes would take away benefits for 644,000 white-collar workers while allowing 1.3 million low-income workers who are now exempt from overtime pay to become eligible for it after a 40-hour workweek. Advocates, economists, and union leaders cite calculations by the Economic Policy Institute, among other groups, that show upwards of 8 million workers would have overtime pay taken away under the new rules.
The amendment, sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), the ranking member on the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations subcommittee, passed 54 – 45. Six Republicans joined 47 Democrats and independent James M. Jeffords (I-VT) in voting for the amendment.
Democratic Representative David R. Obey of Wisconsin offered a similar amendment to the House spending bill, but it was defeated by three votes, 210-213.
Senator Harkin said that this amendment is “a signal to the administration that they can’t just run roughshod over workers’ rights in this country.” The amendment is a great victory for organized labor and other advocates who waged a ferocious battle against the new rules proposed by President Bush.