MNA Position on the Bush Administration’s Proposed Changes to Overtime Laws
In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requiring employers to pay workers over time (time and one-half rate) for work beyond 40 hours in a week. But now, the Department of Labor (DOL), directed by the Bush administration, is prepared to implement changes to regulations governing eligibility for overtime pay that will result in over one million workers—including many senior nurses—losing the right to overtime pay.
Although some modifications to FLSA may be needed in order to address the issue of rising wages, the MNA believes that the proposed changes go too far.
Currently, any manager/supervisor earning more that $8,060 per year is not eligible for overtime pay, and this ceiling clearly needs revision. The Bush administration’s proposed regulation raises the ceiling to $22,100, granting approximately 1.3 million more workers the right to overtime pay. However, other proposed changes would allow employers who pay workers a guaranteed salary—not just expected hourly earnings—in excess of $65,000.00, to exclude employees from the right to overtime pay.
Fortunately, MNA contracts contain provisions that state the RNs right to overtime, thus shielding members from the impact of these proposed changes—but the threat to senior RNs in facilities that are not covered by union contracts (or whose contracts may not have overtime provisions) is great.
The True Intent of the Bush Administration
These proposed changes highlight the true intent of the Bush administration: to weaken the laws and regulations that protect workers. Modifications to the current regulations may be required by changing times, but these proposed changes go too far and weaken enforcement of overtime rights to the extent that regulations become suggestions.