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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2004

Schumer: Over 400,000 New Yorkers Could Lose Overtime Pay Under Labor Dept Plan Slated To Take Effect Next Week

Department of Labor is planning to implement new overtime restrictions that would prevent military veterans, reporters, nurses, office workers, and other workers from collecting overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week

Schumer: Approximately 22,720 in Capital Region could lose overtime; 21,500 in Central NY; 28,800 in Rochester/Finger Lakes; 53,300 in Hudson Valley; 12,700 in N

As many as 438,500 New Yorkers could lose thousands in overtime pay under a Department of Labor plan set to be implemented by next week, US Senator Charles E. Schumer warned today. Schumer released a report today showing that thousands of New Yorkers in each county would be impacted by the plan, and urged Congress to restore the pay for New Yorkers.

"The Labor Department wants to play a cruel joke on thousands of hardworking New Yorkers who depend on overtime: Make them keep working overtime without getting overtime pay," Schumer said. "People don't work long hours just to get a fancy title. A fancy title doesn't pay for the kids' college or the mortgage if your paycheck is actually getting smaller."

The Department of Labor (DOL) is getting ready to finalize a comprehensive overhaul of federal labor laws that would let employers "promote" hourly wage earners eligible for overtime to management, making them no longer eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in January that the department intends to put the new regulations into effect by March 31. Nationwide, over eight million Americans could lose their ability to collect overtime pay, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

The DOL plan would eliminate overtime by broadening the definition of what kinds of jobs are included in management, thereby disqualifying thousands of workers from collecting overtime when they work more than 40 hours a week. The plan would also slash the education levels required to be considered management. According to the DOL, people in 257 so-called white-collar occupations will lose their right to earn overtime, including private-sector emergency medical technicians, paralegals, licensed practical nurses, pilots, draftsmen, surveyors, reporters, editors, chefs, cooks, dental hygienists, health technicians, electrical technicians, and air traffic controllers.

In addition, many non-manual workers earning $65,000 or more from earning overtime would no longer be allowed to collect overtime. So-called blue-collar workers like carpenters, electricians and construction workers would be exempt from the changes. Anyone whose salary was negotiated under a collective bargaining agreement – all unionized workers and most public employees – would also not be affected. The regulation contains no provision protecting veterans from these cuts, however.

Schumer today released an analysis detailing how the DOL plan would impact New Yorkers in each county, including approximately:

• 22,720 in the Capital Region; • 21,500 in Central New York; • 28,800 in Rochester & Finger Lakes; • 53,300 in the Hudson Valley; • 12,700 in the North Country; • 15,000 in the Southern Tier; • 35,300 in Western New York.

[For county-by-breakdowns on all regional statistics, please see attached chart.] Schumer derived these figures from data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, a division of the US Department of Labor. Like the national Economic Policy Institute study, the Schumer study was conducted in two parts, by examining both workers who earn an hourly wage and those who are paid salary-plus-overtime.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 4.03 million workers in New York State are paid hourly. Based on Economic Policy Institute national estimates, Schumer estimates that approximately 302,000 hourly workers in New York State will lose access to overtime, including approximately:

• 15,648 hourly workers in the Capital Region; • 14,804 hourly workers in Central New York; • 19,828 hourly workers in Rochester & Finger Lakes; • 36,719 hourly workers in the Hudson Valley; • 8,746 hourly workers in the North Country; • 10,335 hourly workers in the Southern Tier; • 24,334 hourly workers in Western New York. Similarly, Schumer estimates that as many as 136,500 of New York State's 2.7 million non-hourly workers could lose their overtime, including as many as: • 15,648 salaried workers in the Capital Region; • 14,804 salaried workers in Central New York; • 19,828 salaried workers in Rochester & Finger Lakes; • 36,719 salaried workers in the Hudson Valley; • 8,746 salaried workers in the North Country; • 10,335 salaried workers in the Southern Tier; • 24,334 salaried workers in Western New York.

The Department of Labor (DOL) proposed the new federal regulations last spring. Last fall, Senator Tom Harkin successfully offered an amendment to the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill to prevent the Administration from taking away overtime pay protections, but the White House and Congressional Republicans stripped the provision in private conference committee meetings at the last minute. With the Administration intending to finalize the new overtime restrictions by next week, Harkin has now re-offered his amendment to the JOBS Act now making its way through Congress. Despite broad bipartisan support for Harkin’s amendment, the leadership in the Senate has stalled a vote on it.

Schumer today urged Congress to vote on and pass the provision restoring overtime pay for millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers. "The bottom line is we need to protect this overtime pay and we need to do it now," Schumer said. "If employers no longer have to pay time-and-a-half for overtime work, they'll just demand longer hours from their workers instead of creating more jobs. If you want to create more jobs, one way to do that is to protect overtime pay."

Attached are county-by-county breakdowns of how the new overtime rules would affect each county and region in New York.

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