News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – An amendment introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and co-sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray to protect the overtime pay of millions of Americans from an Administration-led change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) today won approval in the U.S. Senate.

In June, Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Employment, Safety and Training subcommittee, sent a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao decrying the Administration’s attempts to end overtime protections for some 8 million Americans and challenged the proposal in two separate Labor Hearings earlier this year.

This spring, the DOL proposed a rule that would make millions of workers ineligible for overtime pay protection under current law, the FLSA. The FLSA requires employers to pay their employees time-and-a-half for overtime work, but provides a narrow exception for salaried workers in executive, administrative and professional jobs. DOL’s proposal would broaden the definition of what kinds of jobs are included in management. This would allow employers to “promote” hourly wage earners to management, thereby disqualifying those workers from collecting overtime.

The Economic Policy Institute’s analysis of DOL’s proposed rule found that more than 8 million workers could lose their overtime eligibility. Affected workers include nurses, emergency medical technicians, police officers, firefighters, secretaries, sales reps, surveyors, journalists, paralegals, retail managers, dental hygienists, and many others.

On Tuesday, Senator Murray spoke on the Senate floor in favor of protecting overtime pay from the Administration’s proposed change and urged her colleagues to stand up for workers. [Read Senator Murray's Remarks]

Today, the Senate approved the Harkin amendment on a 54-45 vote.

“Today the Senate did the right thing and stood up for America’s workers. In this uncertain economy, punishing workers by taking away their overtime pay makes no sense at all,” Murray said.

“Washington state workers have already been punished enough by this President’s economic policies. It is unbelievable that as families are struggling, the Administration wants to cut overtime pay for millions of Americans who depend on it to make ends meet.”