Sanders Leads Push for Fair Overtime Pay

MONTPELIER, Vt., Jan. 31 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has asked President Barack Obama to make millions more American workers eligible for overtime pay.

“We need to change outdated overtime rules so that businesses can’t shirk their responsibility simply by labeling workers earning as little as $24,000 a year as supervisors,” Sanders said. 

Sanders and 25 other senators sent a letter to the White House urging the U.S. Department of Labor to curb the practice of companies which now classify many low-wage workers as “supervisors” in order to avoid paying them overtime.

“Updating these rules could increase the take-home pay of an estimated 24 million workers who are now making less than $57,000 a year.  I believe this reform is essential to helping middle-class families and I am pleased that so many of my colleagues agree,” Sanders said.

Currently, only people earning no more than $455 per week are required by law to be paid at least time-and-a-half if they work more than a 40-hour workweek. The senators want the president to raise the maximum pay threshold to $1,090.

“Too many Americans are working longer and harder without anything to show for their efforts in their paychecks,” Sens. Sanders and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in the letter that was signed by two dozen other senators.

“These long hours are straining middle-class workers and their families.  Since the 1970s, average salaries for middle-class individuals have dropped even while salaried workers have increased the hours they spend on the job.  Strengthening overtime protections will help millions of middle-class families,” the senators wrote in the letter to Obama that also was sent to U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez. 

In addition to Sanders and Murray, the letter was signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).