Heading into the midterm elections in key states across the country, efforts by Republican attorneys general to block overtime pay protections for millions of workers emerge as a fair pay issue in 2018 campaigns.
Ohio: Overtime pay for mid-level workers becoming key issue in governor’s race – Springfield News-Sun (October 26, 2018)
In May 2016, Vice President Joe Biden dropped into Columbus to tout a federal new rule: overtime pay would be required for salaried workers who make up to $47,476 a year. The change was expected to boost the paychecks of 4.2 million Americans who work as mid-level managers in places such as big box stores, restaurants and the like.
In September 2016, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine joined a lawsuit with 21 state attorneys general to block the regulation, which business groups loathed. The suit was successful.
The overtime regulation is now a central issue in the Ohio governor’s race.
Democrat Richard Cordray is citing analysis from a liberal think tank, Innovation Ohio, that says 327,000 Ohio workers are missing out on $42 million in overtime and raises. The Columbus Dispatch rated a Cordray attack ad on the issue as accurate.
Nevada: Report: Laxalt, Duncan cost Nevadans $8 million in overtime – Nevada Current (September 14, 2018)
Nevada workers who earn between roughly $24,000 and $48,000 annually are losing out on $8 million a year in overtime wages, according to a new report. The report from the National Employment Law Project Action Fund blames gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Adam Laxalt and Laxalt’s former deputy, Wes Duncan, who hopes to replace him, for leading a national charge to block rules that would have expanded overtime eligibility.
The report says 104,000 Nevadans would have been eligible to be compensated for working overtime and that about 40,000 of those are currently working overtime without compensation.
The report urges Nevada lawmakers to update the overtime rules.
“In particular, under Nevada law, the governor, acting through the Nevada Labor Commissioner, has the power to update overtime pay on his or her own without need for action by the legislature,” the report says. “Governors in Pennsylvania and Washington State are already doing so.”
Michigan: Report: Michigan workers lose $37M annually due to federal overtime exemptions – UpNorthLive (September 13, 2018)
A new report claims Michigan workers are not getting paid $37 million annually, due to current federal laws for overtime payments for salaried employees.
The National Employment Law Project (NELP) Action, a workers’ rights nonprofit, released a report detailing 271,000 workers in Michigan did not get paid for their overtime work, based off data from the U.S. from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW), the Economic Policy Institute and the Current Population Survey.
The NELP Action report said, “this overtime pay raise was blocked in Michigan and nationwide as the result of a lawsuit brought by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette.”
NELP Action put us in contact with ‘Julia’, a West Michigan retail manager who requested to stay anonymous for fear of retaliation from her employer. Julia said because she’s a manager in her store, and makes roughly $45,000 a year, her employer does not pay overtime.
“The most I’ve ever worked in a week is 102 hours and I’m exhausted,” she said.
She said if Michigan laws were changed, her employer would be forced to pay her for her overtime or, “Hire someone else to do the extra work I’m doing.”
Because she regularly works more than 50 hours a week, she said she can’t set money aside.
“If my overtime would have been paid, I would have been able to pay down my bills, even save for the future,” Julia said.
Wisconsin: Schimel Suit Cost Workers $23 Million – Suit he joined stopped 165,000 Wisconsin workers from getting overtime pay. – Urban Milwaukee (October 9, 2018)
In Wisconsin, as a new study by the NELP Action Group found, there are a 165,000 workers who would have benefitted, including 23,000 in Milwaukee County, 14,000 in Madison and Dane County and 8,500 in Green Bay and Brown County. Those workers would have earned a combined total of $23 million additional, from the Fall of 2016, when the rule was scheduled to go into effect, until now — almost totaling $46 million by now.
“A typical worker who lost out on expanded overtime pay was an assistant manager at a big-box retail store or a restaurant chain who earns $25,000 to $45,000 a year,” the report noted. “Other affected workers include low-level, low-paid managers at banks, health insurance companies, and a wide range of other types of businesses.”
It’s a huge loss for the state’s middle class, which has been falling behind the wealthiest residents in annual income for decades. And it’s a loss most residents oppose, as a poll by NELP found 81 percent of Wisconsin voters support an overtime pay requirement.