Vice President Joe Biden will fly into Columbus Wednesday to tell U.S. workers that more of them are eligible for overtime pay.
At an appearance at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream’s headquarters downtown, Biden will announce changes to federal overtime rules that the administration says will allow about 4.2 million salaried workers to become eligible for overtime pay.
Currently, salaried workers making more than $23,660 a year are exempt from overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Biden said late Tuesday that under a rule that will go into effect Dec. 1, 2016, that threshold will rise to about $47,476 — essentially from $455 to $913 a week.
COVERAGE OF BIDEN IN OHIO
Our reporters Laura Bischoff and Jessica Wehrman will be with the vice president Wednesday. Look for updates on Twitter at @Ohio_Politics
The administration has not changed exemptions to the rules for some workers who perform certain job duties, such as jobs where the worker regularly supervises two or more employees as part of the primary duty of their job or interviewing, selecting and training employees.
In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Biden said the new rules would provide millions with access to the middle class.
“If you work overtime, you should actually get paid for working overtime,” he said.
In 1975, 62 percent of salaried workers were eligible for overtime pay, he said. Today, it’s seven percent. The threshold hasn’t been raised in 12 years.
Biden said the new rule would give employers a choice: Either pay the worker overtime, or cap salaried workers’ hours at 40 per week. “Either way, the worker wins,” he said.
But opponents say it will further burden businesses already overwhelmed with regulations and force many on the management track back into the hourly workforce. Hourly workers are generally paid overtime.
“This causes a lot more paperwork and hassle and expense for businesses and the effect on the economy is negligible,” said Jack Mozloom, a spokesman for the National Federation of Independent Business, which opposes the rule.
In February, six Ohio Republicans joined some 100 lawmakers in a letter to Labor Secretary Thomas Perez opposing the move. Reps. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, and Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, signed the letter.
“Many small businesses, which operate on thin margins, yet still pay competitive salaries, provide great benefits, and positive workplace environments, simply cannot afford to increase their workers’ salaries to the new salary threshold that has been proposed,” the letter read.
Amy Hanauer, executive director of the left-leaning Policy Matters Ohio, said, “People should be paid for the hours they work. A modest salary is expected to be a salary for a full-time work week. If you’re working more hours than that, you deserve to be paid for that.”
Perez said he projects the new rules will mean some $12 million more in U.S. workers’ pockets over the next decade. Beyond that, he said, it will help workers understand when they’re owed overtime.
“Everybody will receive clarity on where they stand, so they can stand up for their rights,” he said.
Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank supportive of the increase, said that many of the salaried workers should be in hourly positions but that employers put them in salaried positions in order to avoid paying overtime.
“This rule is one of the few things that the president can do unilaterally that will improve people’s lives,” he said.