One of President Obama’s most far-reaching achievements during his time in office is the expansion of overtime pay for millions of American workers. But President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican allies are poised to take it away.
As you are probably aware, most hourly workers in the U.S. are automatically entitled to time-and-a-half pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. But because of the way the rules have been written, millions of salaried employees ― like retail store managers and white-collar professionals ― haven’t enjoyed the same rights. That’s given employers an incentive to work those employees longer hours at the same base salary.
That changed when President Obama overhauled those rules for the first time in years. Under the changes, far more employees who work on salary will be guaranteed overtime when they work extra hours. By the White House’s estimate, the changes are bringing overtime protections to an additional 4.2 million workers, though some economists anticipate the real number will be even greater.
Under the new rules, the Labor Department will update the salary threshold every three years to make sure it keeps pace with inflation and that the share of salaried workers getting overtime pay doesn’t fall.
However, workers may be in for a harsh reality once Donald Trump is in the White House. Trump has repeatedly say that he will undo the reforms to overtime pay put in place by President Barack Obama, and Republicans have already had their sights on the reforms.
As The Huffington Post reported Monday, The House majority passed a bill last month that would delay it from going into effect, and Senate Republicans have previously passed a motion of disapproval trying to block it. A Democrat in the White House assured that any such bill would be vetoed if it reached the president’s desk. The only thing standing in the way of repeal by Republicans now is a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.
A filibuster would leave Republicans relying on the appropriations process to halt the reforms, said Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, a proponent of the overtime changes. Congress could attach a “rider” to a spending bill that prevents the Labor Department from enforcing the overtime rules. In that case, Eisenbrey said, it would fall to businesses to observe the new rules voluntarily, “and businesses would feel compelled to comply.”
“But, eventually,” Eisenbrey adds, “a Trump [Administration] will issue a new regulation to reverse it.”
In other words, if Congress doesn’t block the reform on its own, Trump could write his own reform that undoes Obama’s. That’s one of the inherent limitations of executive action: It can be reversed by a subsequent administration.
H/T: Huffington Post