Overtime Changes

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Proposed changes in overtime rules take another step forward, as the U.S. House votes to approve them.

Some workers could start earning overtime, who now don't. While others might lose overtime pay.

The Labor Department says 1.3 million more low income workers could earn overtime after working 40 hours per week. But 644,000 white-collar workers now getting OT would lose it, because of changes in job definitions.

Local union leaders are concerned workers will lose pay. Questions persist about who will gain overtime, and who will lose it. But there's no question that many Kansans depend on overtime from their work.

SPEEA is the second largest union at Boeing. Contract Administrator Bob Brewer says some Boeing workers there could lose overtime under the proposed changes.

Brewer says, "I think it's of great concern for the people and communities here in Wichita. We've reviewed this extensively. And there's a lot of loose language in there that could put thousands and thousands of workers without overtime pay."

Among other things, the new rules will require overtime for workers earning up to $22,100 a year. That's up from the current $8,060 set in 1975.

Brewer says, "We're not saying we don't want additional people to be benefited by these changes. What we're saying is the people who benefit now don't take that away from the working families."

Brewer is upset U.S. Representative Todd Tiahrt voted with the majority for the changes. An aide to Congressman Tiahrt says their office was told the changes wouldn't affect the unions.

Chuck Knapp says, "It's a matter of interpretations. Tiahrt's office believes the Department of Labor's interpretations are accurate which says the changes won't affect police officers and union members."

Right now, there's a lot of political rhetoric attached to this. In general, democrats are opposed to the changes, republicans are for the changes.

The Chamber Of Commerce won't even comment, because their larger member companies might gain from the changes by paying less overtime. But employees of many smaller companies might finally get paid overtime they didn't before.

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