Modernization Hub

Modernization and Improvement
Updating and Modernizing Overtime Regulations

Updating and Modernizing Overtime Regulations

The President: Thank you,
everybody, thank you. (applause) Thank
you so much. Please. Thank you, guys. Please have a seat. Thank you very much. Well, welcome to
the White House. Before I get started, I
just want to acknowledge somebody who is working
so hard on behalf of America’s workers each and
every day, our outstanding Secretary of
Labor, Tom Perez. So give him a big
round of applause. (applause) There you go. (applause) Tom must have brought some
of his family with him. (laughter) We’ve got a lot of
honored guests here. We’ve got middle-class
workers who rely on overtime pay. We’ve got business owners
who believe in treating their employees right both
because it’s the right thing to do but also
because it’s good for business. And thanks to the hard
work and resilience of Americans like the ones
who are here today, our economy has been growing
for a number of years now. Our businesses have
created more than 8.5 million new jobs over
the last four years. The unemployment rate is
at the lowest it’s been in over five years. But in many ways, the
trends that have really battered middle-class
families for decades have gotten worse, not better. Those at the top are doing
better than ever, but for the average family,
wages have barely budged. And too many Americans are
working harder and harder just to get by. So we’ve got to
reverse those trends. We’ve got to build an
economy that works for everybody, not
just for a few. And we’ve got to restore
the basic notion of opportunity that is at
the heart of the American experience: Opportunity
for everyone; the belief that here in America, it
doesn’t matter where you started, if you are
willing to work hard and act responsibly, you’ve got a chance to get ahead. So at my State of the
Union at the beginning of the year I laid out an
opportunity agenda to give more Americans a
chance to succeed. It’s got four parts. Number one, making sure
we’re creating more good jobs that pay good wages. Number two, making sure
that we’re training more Americans with the skills
that are needed to fill those jobs. Number three, making sure
every child in America gets a world-class
education. And number four, which
is what I’m going to be focusing on today, making
sure that our economy rewards the hard work
of every American. Now, making work pay means
making sure women earn equal pay for equal work. (applause) It means giving
women the chance to have a baby without sacrificing
jobs, or a day off to care for a sick child or parent
without worrying about making ends meet. It means making sure every
American has access to quality, affordable health
care that’s there when you need it. So if there’s somebody out
there that you know that doesn’t have health
insurance, make sure they go on — (laughter) — before March 31st. That’s a priority. (applause) And it means
wages and paychecks that help to support a family. Profitable corporations
like Costco see paying higher wages as way to
reduce turnover and boost productivity. And I’ve asked business
owners to do what they can to give their
employee a raise. As some of you saw, I was
at The Gap yesterday — or the day before yesterday
in Manhattan — and fortunately Malia and
Sasha liked the sweaters I bought them. (laughter) But part of
what I wanted to highlight was the fact that, on its
own, The Gap decided to give a raise to 64,000
employees across the country. I’ve now called on
Congress to give America a raise by raising the
minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. (applause) And in this
year of action, while Congress decides what it’s
going to do — whether it’s going to do
anything about this issue — and I hope that it does, and I
know Democrats are pushing hard to get minimum wage
legislation passed — I’m going to do what I can on
my own to raise wages for more hardworking
Americans. So a few weeks ago I
signed an executive order requiring federal
contractors to pay their employees a fair wage of
at least $10.10 an hour. Today, I’m going to use my
pen to give more Americans the chance to earn the
overtime pay that they deserve. Overtime is a pretty
simple idea: If you have to work more, you
should get paid more. And if you want to know
why it’s so important, just ask some of the folks
here who are behind me. Nancy Minor works at
an oil refinery in Pennsylvania — Nancy,
raise your hand. There you go. Yes, give Nancy a big
round of applause. (applause) So for the last
16 years, Nancy has been a single mom
raising and educating four kids on her own, and that is not
easy, as you might imagine. She’s been able to do it,
though, thanks in part to her overtime pay. For more than 75 years,
the 40-hour workweek and the overtime that comes
with it have helped countless workers
like Nancy get ahead. And it means that when
she’s asked to makes significant sacrifices on
behalf of her company — which she’s happy to do —
they’re also looking out for her, recognizing that
that puts a strain on her family and — having to
get a babysitter and all kinds of things,
adjustments that she has to make. It’s just fair. It’s just the
right thing to do. Unfortunately, today,
millions of Americans aren’t getting the
extra pay they deserve. That’s because an
exception that was originally meant for
high-paid, white-collar employees now covers
workers earning as little as $23,660 a year. So if you’re making
$23,000, typically, you’re not high in management. If your salary is even a
dollar above the current threshold, you may not
be guaranteed overtime. It doesn’t matter if what
you do is mostly physical work like stocking
shelves, it doesn’t matter if you’re working 50 or 60
or 70 hours a week — your employer doesn’t have to
pay you a single extra dime. And I think that’s wrong. It doesn’t make sense that
in some cases this rule actually makes it possible
for salaried workers to be paid less than
the minimum wage. It’s not right when
business owners who treat their employees fairly can
be undercut by competitors who aren’t treating
their employees right. If you’re working hard,
you’re barely making ends meet, you should
be paid overtime. Period. Because working Americans
have struggled through stagnant wages
for too long. Every day, I get letters
from folks who just feel like they’re
treading water. No matter how hard they’re
working — they’re putting in long hours, they’re
working harder and harder just to get by, but it’s
always, at the end of the month, real tight. Workers like the ones with
me here today, they want to work hard. They don’t expect a free
lunch and they don’t expect to be fabulously
wealthy, they just want a chance to get ahead. So today, I’m taking
action to help give more workers that chance. I’m directing Tom Perez,
my Secretary of Labor, to restore the common-sense
principle behind overtime: If you go above and beyond
to help your employer and your economy succeed, then
you should share a little bit in that success. And this is going to make
a real difference in the lives of millions of
Americans, from managers in fast food and retail to office workers, cargo inspectors. And we’re going to do this
the right way — we’re going to consult with both
workers and businesses as we update our
overtime rules. We’re going to work to
simplify the system to it’s easier for employers
and employees alike. With any kind of change
like this, not everybody is going to be happy, but
Americans have spent too long working more and
getting less in return. So wherever and whenever
I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work
and responsibility, that it makes sure that it’s
treating fairly the workers who are out there
building this economy every day, that’s
what I’m going to do. What every American wants
is a paycheck that lets them support their
families, experience a little bit of economic
security, pass down some hope and optimism
to their kids. That’s what we’re going
to be fighting for. That’s what I’m going to
be fighting for as long as I’m President of
the United States. And with that, I’m going
to sign this memo. And I want to thank
everybody for being here, especially the folks
standing behind me. (applause)

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