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State Lawmakers, Policy Experts Urge Action on Overtime Pay, Call Out GOP Obstruction

Reps. Kelly, Smith announce plan to ensure Ohio workers get paid for the work they do
April 3, 2018
Brigid Kelly News

State Representatives Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) and Kent Smith (D- Euclid) today announced legislation to strengthen Ohio’s outdated overtime pay rules. Policy Matters Ohio’s Hannah Halbert, who urged action on the nation’s outdated overtime pay rules, joined them. The event also highlighted how the Trump administration—as well as special interests and Republican officials, including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine—are obstructing a rule that would ensure that workers are paid fairly for the hours they work.

“Because of outdated overtime rules, millions of working people are working overtime and aren’t getting paid for it,”  said Rep. Kelly. “We can’t boost our economy by staying stuck in the past. We need to modernize overtime pay to give more people the opportunity to have a better life.”

Kelly added, “If Congress or the Trump administration doesn’t act—as they haven’t—states can and should set their own standards to strengthen overtime and protect more workers.”

“Ohio’s middle class and working families are falling farther behind due to stagnant wages. Ohioans are working hard, and earning less,” said Rep. Kent Smith. “These are Ohio families who are struggling to put food on the table. These are Ohioans who are challenged every month to make ends meet. These are the Ohio school kids that are falling behind their peers because they’re growing up in economically disadvantaged homes. These are the Ohio families that are in the middle of a crisis, or on the edge of crisis.

“The people who are working overtime hours should be paid for it,” Smith added.

“Ohioans need overtime laws that reflect the realities of today’s labor market,” said Hannah Halbert of Policy Matters Ohio. “The Trump Department of Labor worked to block the rules from taking effect, letting down working people.”

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor strengthened an existing rule requiring employers to pay workers overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week. The new rule directly benefited an estimated 12.5 million American workers, including 351,000 Ohioans.However, Republican officials, including Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, blocked the rule, denying millions of Americans a raise. The Trump administration has responded by effectively abandoning the rule altogether.

Without the new rule, Ohio workers are losing more than $123,000 in wages every day – more than $45 million in lost wages each year. If Congress or the Trump administration won’t act, Kelly and Smith assert that states can and should set their own standards to strengthen overtime and protect more workers.

The current federal overtime annual salary threshold is $23,660. Reps. Smith and Kelly’s legislation would set Ohio’s overtime annual salary threshold at $47,476.

Today’s press conference was organized by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the Economic Policy Institute, For Ohio’s Future Action Fund, Innovation Ohio, Policy Matters Ohio, and ProgressOhio.