Congressional Tinkering Could Affect Your Paycheck

By: Vicky Nguyen
By: Vicky Nguyen

Congress is considering new overtime rules that could affect your
paycheck. It's the first legislation in nearly thirty years that would
change the way labor rules are written.

This could affect millions of workers as iIt's extremely far-reaching - in some cases it will benefit workers, in others, it will take away their overtime pay, which could be devastating for those who depend on that extra income.

The new law passed the House of Representatives yesterday; now it
moves on to the Senate.

Next month, Spike Vance begins driving commercial trucks for a living.
"I've been wanting to do this since i was a kid," he said.

Vance says the overtime pay would range from 20 to 40 hours a
week - bringing his salary up by several hundred dollars a paycheck.

But if the Bush administration's new legislation passes, he could
be one of several million workers who wouldn't qualify for overtime
pay.

"If you're gonna be working 12-14 hour days you better get paid..we
depend on that overtime pay," he said.

Under the current rules, anyone earning less than $8,060 dollars a
year can receive overtime. The new rules raise the ceiling to about $22,000.

That means anyone earning more than that would not necessarily
qualify for overtime.

Department of Labor officials say that will help boost pay for more than a million low-income workers when they work more than 40 hours a week.

But for many white collar workers, such as medical professionals or
mid level managers, overtime could be eliminated.

The idea - to stimulate business - allowing companies to remain
productive while cutting down on overtime pay costs.

"If they can have a controlled budget, there's some potential for real
savings, but what we're not seeing is the effect that will have on
employees," said Lisa Plummer of the Economic Development Authority.

Labor unions are campaigning against the new rules, saying this hurts hiring because employers can simply make salaried workers do more for the same pay.

Tom Stoneburner\Alliance for
Workers'
Rights]
"This is a time when all American workers should be vigilant and take
part in the debate," said Tom Stoneburner of the Alliance for Workers'
Rights.

If the new rules pass, they could go into effect later this year.

But judging by the controversy now, the issue would likely end up in
the courts before hitting the workforce.

The new laws also change how workers would be classified - some
unions would still be exempt. The legislation would be the first overhaul of the Federal Labor Standards Act since it was established in 1975.

There are strong feelings on both sides - labor and business - and we'll
see what the Senate has to say.


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