DeLauro: More U.S. workers deserve overtime pay protection

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes a part of Shelton, is praising the president’s move to make it easier for lower-paid salaried workers to receive overtime pay.

President Barack Obama has directed U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to strengthen overtime pay protections by, in part, possibly raising the salary threshold for workers that are covered by the rules.

In general, the overtime protections now end for salaried people earning more than about $24,000 a year.

‘Erosion of rules’

“Millions of Americans put in a hard day’s work — and then some — but cannot get ahead due to the erosion of rules protecting the 40-hour workweek, a linchpin of the middle class,” said DeLauro, the senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Labor Department.

“Rules like this do more than just protect workers,” she said. “They also create a level playing field for businesses who want to treat their employees fairly and decently.

“Without basic standards,” DeLauro continued, “we would have a race to the bottom. But all too often, people are working harder, but still find themselves falling behind. For America to continue on a path of strength and prosperity, that needs to end, and strengthening overtime pay protections is a step in the right direction.”

Not updated for a decade

Overtime and minimum wage rules are set by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was originally passed by Congress in 1938 and protects more than 135 million workers in more than 7.3 million workplaces nationwide.

Workers who are paid hourly wages or earn below a certain salary threshold are generally protected by overtime regulations. That threshold has only been updated — or increased — twice in the last 40 years and now lags far behind inflation, according to DeLauro. The last update was in 2004.

As a result, millions of low-paid, salaried workers lack these basic protections, DeLauro said.

What is being reviewed

During Perez’s review to modernize the law, the labor secretary is expected to consider:

— Updating existing protections in keeping with the intention of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

— Addressing the changing nature of the American workplace.

— Simplifying the overtime rules to make them easier for both workers and businesses to understand and apply.

About Rosa DeLauro

DeLauro is in her 12th term representing Connecticut’s Third Congressional District. She lives in New Haven.

Part of Shelton also is in the Fourth Congressional District, represented by Jim Himes, a Democrat from Greenwich.