Millions of workers to become eligible for overtime - WNEM TV 5

Millions of workers to become eligible for overtime

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Starting later this year, millions more workers will become eligible for overtime pay.

New rules announced by the White House would expand access to overtime pay for low-wage workers who log long hours, but paying employees billions in overtime could cause employers to cut workers' hours and retailers to raise prices.

"I vowed to help those that are coming behind me," said Dawn Hughey, a woman who fought for overtime pay.

She may never be cast in bronze, but many will consider Hughey a hero. Her battle with the Dollar General store chain helped win the victory for millions of salaried workers to get overtime pay.

Hughey routinely worked 70 hour weeks as a salaried manager with no paid overtime.

She was injured on the job and then fired by Dollar General a few years ago. She filed a lawsuit against the store chain that eventually caught the attention of the U.S. Labor Department in Washington.

Officials realized Hughey represented millions of American workers, mostly salaried executives, administrators and professionals who work dozens of extra weekly hours for no extra pay.

"It's also people that work in gas stations. People that work in restaurants that are all considered managers, salaried managers. They bring you in, pay you for 40 hours and then work you 60 and 70 hours," Hughey said.

The Obama Administration announced on Wednesday, mandatory overtime pay to workers who make less than about $47,400 a year. Or about $900 a week.

The percent of salaried workers automatically eligible for overtime now is 7 percent. That's down from 62 percent 40 years ago. With the new salary threshold, 35 percent of salaried workers will become automatically eligible for overtime starting Dec. 1 for hours above 40 per week.

Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce President Bob Van Deventer said hold off on the victory dance. Higher pay for workers can also mean higher prices to consumers for goods and services.

"If they're gonna have the ability to pass that cost on to the eventual consumers, are they gonna have to decrease cost to make up for that by potentially reducing benefits? I mean, those are gonna be tough decisions," Van Deventer said.

The cost of overtime pay could mean prices you have to work overtime to pay for.

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