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Wisconsin Among 21 States that Prevail in Halting Federal Overtime Rule

Some salaried workers will soon have to be paid overtime

Update, Nov. 23: Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is praising a federal court in Texas for issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction to halt the Dept. of Labor's Overtime Rule. Schimel, representing Wisconsin, had joined 20 other states in asking the court to put the rule on hold. "There’s no greater honor than representing millions of Wisconsinites in the continuous fight for the return of power to our citizens, away from an out-of-control federal bureaucracy in Washington D.C. Wisconsin must have the ability to set its own priorities and policies,” Schimel said via a written statement.

Original story, from Nov. 16:

On December 1st, U.S. employers will begin paying more salaried workers in Milwaukee and across the country overtime, if they work longer than 40-hours a week.

The White House put the new rule in motion. But with a new administration taking over, questions are arising over businesses and workers should expect.

On May 21, 2016 President Obama had this to say in his weekly address.

“This week, my administration took a step to make sure that more workers get the overtime pay they’ve earned. The Department of Labor finalized a rule to extend overtime protections to 4.2 million more Americans. It’s a move that will boost wages for working Americans by $12 billion over the next 10 years,” Obama says.

The move Mr. Obama is talking about would force employers to pay overtime to salaried employees who make up to $47,476 a year. Right now, the threshold for overtime pay is $23,660.

Because the change was done via executive action versus Congress passing a law, incoming President Trump could scrap the requirement. Ed Lump hopes so. He’s with the Wisconsin Restaurant Association. Lump says for now, he’s telling his members that they must be compliant by December 1st. And he predicts workers could end up losing ground, if the rule stands.

“In some cases where you have managers that are fairly high level they’ll get raises that’ll take them above the threshold. But in some cases, where you have managers that are lower level, not making anywhere near the threshold, they may actually find themselves having their hours restricted and being reduced back to hourly workers,” Lump says.

Lump says businesses can’t pull money out of thin air, so if employers must pay more, they must take the money from somewhere else. Like Lump, Chris Reader is also holding out hope that Donald Trump will repeal the executive action. Reader is with the business group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. He warns that it’s not clear what President elect Donald Trump will do on this issue.

“Only a couple times during the campaign did he talk about it, and what he talked about was maybe coming up with some exemption for smaller employers. So nobody really knows what he might do in this area. Certainly Congress would look to repeal it.  They’ve passed bills in the past to repeal it that president Obama has vetoed,” Reader says.

Reader says the only thing certain right now is that the order will take effect on December 1st, and businesses don’t want to be found out of compliance  because that could mean fines and possibly even back pay for workers.

While most businesses aren’t excited about the new rules, workers are. Sheila Cochran is with the Milwaukee Area Labor Council. She says if Trump is really for working people like he’s said he is, he’ll keep the rules in play.

“For someone who ran on jobs and seemingly is so concerned about middle class America, that’s exactly what this overtime rule was designed for. Those people that employers were taking advantage of and called them supervisors and then not pay them in the fashion that they should have,” Cochran says.

Cochran says she’s holding out the tiniest bit of hope that the executive order will remain in place.

Wisconsin is one of many state have signed onto a lawsuit to stop the executive order from taking effect.

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