Weekly Address: President Obama – Expanding Overtime Pay

The President’s Weekly Address post is also an Open News Thread. Feel free to share other news stories in the comments.

From the White HouseWeekly Address

In this week’s address, President Obama discussed one of the single most important steps to help grow middle-class wages – expanding the number of workers who are eligible for the overtime that they have earned. Every week, millions of Americans work more than 40 hours but do not receive the overtime pay they deserve. This week, the Department of Labor finalized a rule to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans, which will boost wages for working Americans by $12 billion over the next 10 years. This action will not only mean a better life for more American families, but will also strengthen our economy across the board. The President emphasized that he will continue to build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot to get ahead.

Transcript: Weekly Address: Expanding Overtime Pay

Remarks of President Barack Obama as Delivered
Weekly Address, The White House, May 21, 2016

Hi everybody. Last summer, I got a letter from a woman named Elizabeth Paredes from Tucson, Arizona. Elizabeth is the mom of a 3-year-old boy, and an assistant manager at a sandwich shop. She earns about $2,000 a month, and she routinely works some 50 hours a week, sometimes even more. But because of outdated overtime regulations, she doesn’t have to be paid a dime of overtime.

She wrote: “It’s not easy work and requires a lot of time away from my son… at times I find [it’s] not worth it.”

Things like the 40-hour workweek and overtime are two of the most basic pillars of a middle class life. But for all the changes we’ve seen in our economy, our overtime rules have only been updated once since the 1970s. Just once. In fact, forty years ago, more than 60 percent of workers were eligible for overtime based on their salaries. But today, that number is down to seven percent. Only seven percent of full-time salaried workers are eligible for overtime based on their income.

That’s why this week, my Administration took a step to help more workers get the overtime pay they’ve earned. The Department of Labor finalized a rule to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans. It’s a move that will boost wages for working Americans by $12 billion over the next 10 years. We’re more than doubling the overtime salary threshold. And what that means is, most salaried workers who earn less than about $47,500 a year will qualify for overtime. Or, their employers can choose to give them a raise so that they earn more than $47,500. Or, if employers don’t want to raise wages, they can let them go home after 40 hours and see their families or train for new jobs. Any way you slice it, it’s a win for working families. And we’re making sure that every three years, there will be an automatic update to this threshold – so that working families won’t fall through the cracks for decades at a time ever again.

This is the single biggest step I can take through executive action to raise wages for the American people. It means that millions of hardworking Americans like Elizabeth will either get paid for working more than 40 hours, or they’ll get more time with their families. Either way, they win. The middle class wins. And America wins.

We still have more work to do to make sure this economy works for everybody, not just those at the top. That’s why I’ll never stop fighting for as long as I hold this office – to restore the sense that in America, hard work should be rewarded with the chance to get ahead.

Thanks everybody. Have a great weekend.

Bolding added.

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10 Comments

  1. This fact underscores that the change is an updating of an existing rule rather than “executive overreach” as the Republicans are screaming:

    Forty years ago, more than 60 percent of workers were eligible for overtime based on their salaries. But today, that number is down to seven percent.

    It was never meant to create a permanent class of wage slaves but had merely not been updated. Indexing wage laws to inflation makes perfect sense.

    Thank you, President Obama!

  2. Also this week, the president signed a law allowing the remains of women who served in WASP to be interred in Arlington National Cemetery.

    H.R. 4336, which provides for the burial in Arlington National Cemetery of the cremated remains of Women Airforce Service Pilots and other active duty designees;

    From NPR:

    Congress has passed legislation to allow the cremated remains of women who served as Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, to be buried in the revered Arlington National Cemetery, a space reserved for people who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

    In the 1940s, when the U.S. was faced with a shortage of pilots, the WASP became the first women to fly military aircraft. Training women to fly noncombat and training missions freed up male pilots for combat duty overseas. […]

    the WASP spent years fighting to win status as war veterans before a federal law finally recognized their military service in 1977. As veterans, the WASP had been eligible for years to have their ashes buried in Arlington National Cemetery. But that changed last year, when the Army revoked their right to be laid to rest in the veterans cemetery, citing limited space.

    “The Army is giving some bureaucratic answer that makes absolutely no sense,” said Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., on Here & Now in March. McSally introduced the legislation to allow the WASP the honor of being buried at Arlington. […]

    Burial in Arlington, however, transcends personal awards, as 94-year-old Nell Bright, one of about 100 WASP who are still living, told Here & Now.

    “Its a great honor to be buried at Arlington,” she said. “I think that the WASP deserve to have that honor.”

    McSally agrees, dismissing lingering concerns about space as “sexism.”

    “I realize that at some point they are going to run out of space at Arlington. We understand that,” the congresswoman said. “But look, when we are totally out of space … why would we not want to have the story of the WASP as part of that legacy?”

    • Women’s contributions have never been recognized. I read a whole novel about the women in the USA who took over ferrying newly built aircraft to Air Force bases. Sexism and racism have permeated this country since its birth.

      I hope the rule is changed so women pilots can be buried at Arlington Cemetery. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place. Humbling and saddening, as is the American cemetery in Normandy.

      • The rule was changed! (Sorry my post wasn’t clear). Congress passed it (probably because a Republican sponsored the bill) and President Obama signed it yesterday.

        I have been to Arlington National Cemetery. The feeling one gets – walking among the gravesites, seeing the monuments – simply can’t be captured with words. My daughter studied the Vietnam War in history this year and having seen the Vietnam Memorial a couple of years ago made it connect better. Some people I was in high school with went to that war and some died. It was the last war that touched every American because it was the last war that required every American to put some skin in. I wish our current wars included that element because it is too easy to commit troops when it is “someone else” who will be making the ultimate sacrifice.

  3. New Nutrition label unveiled!

    From the White House:

    Found on nearly 800,000 products, the label has not been significantly updated since its initial release twenty years ago. Considering 77% of U.S. adults report using the Nutrition Facts label when buying a food product, the revamped label is a significant landmark achievement supporting the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative in its ongoing efforts to support raising a healthier generation.

    “I am thrilled that the FDA has finalized a new and improved Nutrition Facts label that will be on food products nationwide,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “This is going to make a real difference in providing families across the country the information they need to make healthy choices.”


    Nutrition Facts Label

    • That is so great. I’ve been having to cobble together nutritional information from a variety of sources, many of which are over 30 years old and I have no idea how accurate they are (based on more recent research). Also, since I don’t eat 2000 calories a day, trying to jack around with figuring out how much of what I needed I was actually getting was a real pain. Cheers for Michelle Obama and the reality-based party!

  4. From the Trumphole:

    The Daily Edge @TheDailyEdge

    BREAKING: NRA endorses Donald Trump, but stops short of letting him hold an actual gun

  5. Jan, thanks for the post re overtime pay. Of course, Paul Ryan is vowing to “fight it.” Always on the side of the oligarchs, our Paulie!

    Oh, how I WISH the Dems would retake the house and Nancy Pelosi would once more be Speaker! Can you imagine how it would be to have a woman as Speaker of the House again? The Speaker is third in line for the presidency should anything happen, Goddess forbid, to the president and veep!

    • I have been nervous about presidential succession since the 2014 election. A Republican president and a Republican Congress would undo 100 years of progress in the blink of an eye. And Paul Ryan is a sociopath. I don’t know if we can take back the House in 2016, we really dug a hole for ourselves, but it will happen. And when it does I hope Nancy Pelosi is still in line for the speakership.

  6. From the campaign trail: NRA – “This time it really will happen!!”

    In 2008 and then again in 2012, National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre claimed that if Barack Obama were elected president, he would confiscate everyone’s guns.

    That hasn’t happened — firearm possession actually increased during Obama’s tenure, thanks in large part to the NRA’s marketing and legislative agenda. But that didn’t stop the group’s leadership from lobbing the same attack at Hillary Clinton during its annual meeting in Louisville on Friday.

    “If she could, Hillary would ban every gun, destroy every magazine, run an entire national security industry right into the ground, and put your name on a government registration list,” LaPierre said. “If she gets her hands on the Supreme Court and stacks it with just one more justice, every total gun ban she dreams, every confiscation scheme that she craves, would stand up in her court and we’ll all be kissing our Second Amendment freedom goodbye.”

    “You can kiss your guns goodbye,” he continued during his remarks to roughly 80,000 NRA members.

    Meanwhile, in Fort Lauderdale: Hillary “I will not pander to the gun lobby”

    The Democratic presidential front-runner, who spoke at a Trayvon Martin Foundation’s Circle of Mothers event in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said a vote for Trump is a vote for an America rife with fear, anger and violence. She mentioned Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two unarmed black teens shot dead by white civilians.”Unlike Donald Trump, I will not pander to the gun lobby,” she said. “We will not be silenced and we will not be intimidated.”

    Her comments come a day after the NRA endorsed Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee. Clinton, calling the gun lobby’s power in Washington dangerous, suggested Trump was catering to them by “unsigning” Obama’s executive action increasing gun restrictions and mandating guns in classrooms.

    “Something is wrong when so many parents live in fear that their child will be hurt or killed just for being a young black man in a hooded sweatshirt like Trayvon or listening to music in a car like Jordan Davis,” Clinton said.

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