Chamber Criticizes Senate Vote on Overtime Regulations | U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Chamber Criticizes Senate Vote on Overtime Regulations

Tuesday, September 9, 2003 - 8:00pm

U.S. Chamber Criticizes Senate Vote on Overtime Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce today criticized lawmakers for passage of an amendment to the Senate Labor-HHS appropriations bill that effectively blocks the Department of Labor from moving forward with proposed changes to overtime pay regulations pertaining to "white-collar" workers.

The Harkin Amendment to H.R. 2660 passed the Senate by a 54-45 vote.

"The Senate's action is a clear case of politics and party rhetoric trumping common sense and it shows no regard for the regulatory process," said Randel Johnson, Chamber vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits. "Today's vote denies expanded eligibility for overtime to a million low wage workers and allows the recent litigation explosion under the Fair Labor Standards Act to continue."

The proposed changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act sought to revise overtime regulations that have been untouched for more than 50 years and have become grossly out of date. They would have ensured overtime pay for any employee making less than $22,100 per year, nearly a 175% increase in current rules. More than 1.3 million American workers would have been guaranteed overtime pay under the rule changes.

The changes would have modernized regulations governing overtime pay, making it easier to determine which white-collar workers are eligible for overtime and which are not, according to the Chamber. In addition, they would have prevented trial lawyers from exploiting the confusion surrounding current regulations to land outrageous settlements for highly skilled and paid white-collar workers looking to take advantage of the system.

"Congress's own General Accounting Office recommended that DOL review and comprehensively restructure white-collar exemptions to the overtime regulations back in 1999," said Johnson. "Now, just as DOL is weighing all public comments on the issue and considering action, the Senate pulls the rug out from underneath them."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region.