New Polling Shows Voters Support Stronger Overtime Protections

More than 8 million workers will be left behind by the Trump administration overtime proposal

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor published a proposal to set the overtime salary threshold, beneath which almost all workers are entitled to overtime pay, at $679 per week, or $35,308 for a full-year worker, in 2020.

In recent polling conducted by Hart Research Associates in competitive congressional districts, voters expressed overwhelming support for the Obama-era regulations as opposed to the Trump Labor Department proposal. By a margin of 76-16, respondents favored guaranteeing overtime pay to workers earning up to $47,000 a year over the Trump administration proposal to guarantee it only to those earning up to $35,000. Independent voters favored the Obama overtime proposal over the Trump proposal by a 71-15 margin, Republican voters by a 65-27, and Democratic voters by an 89-7 margin.

“These poll numbers show that voters are not fooled by the Trump Labor Department’s weak overtime proposal,” said Judy Conti, government affairs director with the National Employment Law Project. “The Trump administration deserves no credit for being pro-worker—and voters certainly aren’t giving them that credit—because it’s obvious their proposal would actually roll back expanded overtime pay eligibility. It’s also obvious to everyone that they’re doing the bidding of corporate special interests.”

According to a new Economic Policy Institute analysis, the adoption of this proposal would leave behind an estimated 8.2 million workers who would have gotten new or strengthened overtime protections under regulations finalized in 2016. These 8.2 million workers include 4.2 million women, 3.0 million people of color, 4.7 million workers without a college degree, and 2.7 million parents of children under the age of 18. Further, because the Trump proposal does not automatically index the threshold going forward, the number of workers left behind grows from 8.2 million in 2020 to an estimated 11.5 million over the first 10 years of implementation.

“If the Labor Department finalizes its new proposal, millions of workers who should get overtime protections will fall through the cracks,” said EPI Director of Policy Heidi Shierholz. “DOL does not need to undertake a new rulemaking—they just need to defend the 2016 rule, and support middle-class workers who badly need a raise.”

In their proposal, DOL estimates that 2.8 million fewer workers will be helped by their proposal than under the 2016 rule. However, Shierholz points out that this is a vast underestimate. First, DOL’s estimates look at data from 2015-2017, while Shierholz uses estimates of the future workforce. At the same time, the department’s estimate of those left behind leaves out workers who will no longer get strengthened protections—salaried workers who should already receive overtime but who are vulnerable to misclassification as exempt.

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