WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (Both D-Md.) today wrote to President Barack Obama reiterating their support for updating overtime rules to ensure more Maryland workers are paid fairly for overtime hours. In the letter, along with two dozen of their Senate colleagues, urged the administration to raise the overtime threshold for salaried workers to $56,680 a year to strengthen overtime protections for millions more middle-class workers.
“Too many Americans are working longer and harder without anything to show for their efforts in their paychecks,” the senators wrote. “These long hours are straining middle class workers and their families. Since the 1970s, average salaries for middle class individuals have dropped even while salaried workers have increased the hours they spend on the job. Strengthening overtime protections will help millions of middle class families.”
Currently, the salary threshold for receiving overtime pay is $23,660 – a wage below the poverty line for a family of four. That threshold covers approximately 11 percent of today’s salaried workers, and disqualifies millions of middle-class workers who often work long hours from getting time-and-a-half pay. Raising the threshold to $56,680 would cover 47 percent of today’s salaried workers, ensuring more workers get a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.
Full text of the senators’ letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
We commend you for your commitment to strengthen overtime protections for American workers. Overtime protections are vital to helping middle class workers and our economy. As you work on the final regulation, we encourage you to increase the overtime threshold to at least $1,090 a week ($56,680 a year) and index it to inflation.
Too many Americans are working longer and harder without anything to show for their efforts in their paychecks. These long hours are straining middle class workers and their families. Since the 1970s, average salaries for middle class individuals have dropped even while salaried workers have increased the hours they spend on the job. Strengthening overtime protections will help millions of middle class families.
Current regulations fail to protect the majority of the workforce. Today, the salary threshold that determines who is automatically eligible for overtime coverage is so low that earning as little as $455 a week ($23,660 a year) could result in being exempted from being eligible for overtime. Only 11 percent of salaried workers earn less than the current overtime threshold, a drastic departure from the past when most workers earned overtime pay. In 1975, 65 percent of American salaried workers were under the income threshold. To cover 65 percent of salaried workers today, the income threshold would need to be increased to $1,327 (around $69,000 a year).
Raising the income threshold to at least $56,680 a year will restore the monetary value of the income threshold to 1975 levels and make approximately 47 percent of salaried workers eligible for overtime pay. These are middle class workers who have been working longer hours but without additional compensation. You have an opportunity to help these workers get a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work by restoring the income threshold to at least its 1975 value ($56,680 a year) and indexing it to inflation.
Thank you for your ongoing efforts to help middle class families.
Cc: The Honorable Thomas Perez, Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor