A bill sponsored by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin is expected to go to a vote next week that would block rule changes he says would keep millions of workers from earning overtime pay. Sandra Boyd, spokeswoman for the National Association of Manufacturers, disagrees with Harkin, saying the Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938 is in dire need of an update. The Department of Labor is working to overhaul the act, which guarantees overtime pay for most employees who work over 40 hours per week. Boyd says the legislation hasn’t been reformed since 1954 and is long overdue and vague. She says it’s impossible for employees to tell with any certainty whether they’re entitled to overtime or are exempt as an executive, administrative or professional employee. Boyd says in the last year, overtime lawsuits became the most frequent type of employment class action in the nation, exposing employers to tens of millions of dollars in liability. She says part of the reason there’s so much litigation is that the rules are so out of date. Boyd says the overtime rules target a subset of white collar workers, adding, most blue collar workers in Iowa would -not- be slighted by it. Meanwhile, Senator Harkin, a Democrat, says his action to block the overtime pay rule changes would keep up to eight-million workers from losing possible overtime pay, rules he says would further harm the nation’s economy.
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