For Release: Thursday, September 1, 2016
Media Contact: Rob Duffey, [email protected], 646.828.0844
NEW BATTLEGROUND POLL: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OVERTIME RULE OVERWHELMINGLY POPULAR AND REPUBLICANS WHO OPPOSE IT PAY A PENALTY
VOTERS IN 7 STATES SUPPORT OT REGULATION FOR SALARIED WORKERS; LESS LIKELY TO VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS WHO OPPOSE IT
Washington, DC – A new poll shows that likely voters in 7 battleground states strongly support the Obama Administration rule expanding overtime pay, and that Republican incumbents who are trying to block the measure risk losing crucial support among voters. In May, the U.S. Department of Labor announced a final overtime pay rule that expands and enhances eligibility for overtime for 12.5 million low-income and middle-class workers by raising the income threshold for full-time workers to $47,476 from $23,660. But Congressional Republicans are leading a charge to block the regulations.
Forty-four Senate Republicans, including John McCain (R-AZ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI,) are co-sponsoring a resolution that would block these regulations in their entirety and ban the DOL from trying to update the regulations at all. House Republicans have also offered riders to the DOL’s appropriations bill that would block the overtime rule.
“Americans are working more and more hours for less and less money – they need leaders who will fight for improved working conditions and expanded worker protections,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) Action Fund, a project of the Advocacy Fund and the nonpartisan not-for-profit organization that commissioned the poll. “This poll clearly shows that incumbents who carry water for big businesses and attempt to deny working people their basic rights stand to lose crucial support at the polls.”
The poll, conducted Friday through Monday by Public Policy Polling, asked voters in seven states with competitive Senate races, including Arizona, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin whether they support the overtime measure. In each state, at least 76% of voters said they support the rule, which raises the salary threshold for the so-called “white-collar exemption” to guarantee that employees who are paid less than $47,476 a year will be entitled to overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a week. In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, support for the rule was as high as 81%. A majority of respondents in all seven states, and by a more than two-to-one margin in all seven states, said that they were less likely to vote for Republican lawmakers who are attempting to block the new overtime rule, including 57% of voters in Pennsylvania and 55% of voters in Arizona.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which guarantees time-and-a-half pay for work exceeding 40 hours a week, exempts certain employees with high-level duties and salaries from overtime pay. But the Department of Labor, which is responsible for updating the exemption rules, had over a nearly 40-year period consistently failed to adequately update the thresholds. As a result, the current threshold falls below the poverty line for a family of four. Nearly two million workers across the seven states would gain eligibility for overtime under the new rule if it goes into effect on Dec. 1, 2016.