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Speak up for better overtime protections

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen some pretty terrific news on a number of issues. We saw the Supreme Court uphold the Affordable Care Act and affirm the right for Americans in every state to get married—no matter whom they love. And just last week, we saw international commitments on climate change from some of the world’s biggest economies.

On top of all that, this week President Obama announced that his administration was extending overtime protections to millions of Americans.

With all the major victories this month, overtime protections can seem insignificant, but I want to tell you why it’s such a big deal for millions of Americans.

Even as our economy has recovered from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression—with 64 consecutive months of private-sector job growth—wages for middle class Americans haven’t kept up with our growing economy and productivity. That's in large part because our overtime rules are way out of date.

Paying people fairly for the work they do is a pretty basic principle. But over the last few decades, fewer and fewer workers have had the benefit of overtime protections.

Under current rules, salaried workers making more than $23,660 a year cannot claim overtime—even when they're working 50, 60, sometimes 70-hour weeks. In some cases, employers are even calling regular workers “managers” to avoiding paying them for extra time worked.

President Obama's new proposal nearly doubles the overtime threshold to $50,400 by next year, which will extend overtime protections to nearly five million workers. It will also update these rules automatically, so these protections aren’t eroded in the future. In addition, discouraging employers from asking their salaried workers to put in extra hours for no pay will encourage business to hire more workers.

This may seem like common sense (and recent polling shows that 79 percent of Americans support raising the overtime threshold), but it’s a pretty big move, and one of the biggest things the President can do to strengthen the middle class, raise wages for hard-working Americans, and grow the economy.

The Department of Labor is collecting comments on the path forward over the next few months. Show your support for expanding overtime protections to nearly five million workers by adding your voice today.


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