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Now, for more than 75 years, the 40-hour workweek and the overtime protections that come with it have helped countless workers climb the ladder of success. But today, an overtime exception originally meant for highly-paid employees now applies to workers who earn as little as $23,660 a year. It doesn’t matter if you do mostly physical labor, or if you work 50, 60, even 70 hours a week. Your employer may not have to pay you a single extra dime.  
President Obama used his weekly address to make the case for expanding overtime eligibility, as he proposed earlier in the week. Over time, as he laid out, overtime protections have eroded. But the erosion of overtime is a part of growing inequality that the president can address through his power to adjust the rules carrying out the Fair Labor Standards Act:
Americans have spent too long working more and getting less in return. So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that’s what I’m going to do. Because what every American wants is a paycheck that lets them support their families, know a little economic security, and pass down some hope and optimism to their kids. That’s something worth fighting for.  And I’ll keep fighting for it as long as I’m President.
To read the transcript in full, check below the fold or visit the White House website.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
March 15, 2014

Hi, everybody.  In this year of action, I’m doing everything I can, with or without Congress, to expand opportunity for more Americans.  This week, I ordered a review of our nation’s overtime rules, to give more Americans the chance to earn the overtime pay they’ve worked for.

Here’s why this matters.  Our businesses have created 8.7 million new jobs over the past four years.  But in many ways, the trends that have battered the middle class for decades have grown even starker.  While those at the top are doing better than ever, average wages have barely budged.  Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up.

We’ve got to build an economy that works for everybody, not just a fortunate few.  We know from our history that our economy grows best from the middle out, when growth is more widely shared.  So we’ve got to restore opportunity for all – the idea that with hard work and responsibility, you can get ahead.  

Now, for more than 75 years, the 40-hour workweek and the overtime protections that come with it have helped countless workers climb the ladder of success.  But today, an overtime exception originally meant for highly-paid employees now applies to workers who earn as little as $23,660 a year.  It doesn’t matter if you do mostly physical labor, or if you work 50, 60, even 70 hours a week.  Your employer may not have to pay you a single extra dime.    

In some cases, this rule makes it possible for workers earning a salary to actually be paid less than the minimum wage.  And it means that business owners who treat their employees fairly can be undercut by competitors who don’t.  That’s not right.  So we’re going to update those overtime rules to restore that basic principle that if you have to work more, you should be able to earn more.  And we’ll do it by consulting workers and businesses, and simplifying the system so it’s easier for everyone.

Americans have spent too long working more and getting less in return.  So wherever and whenever I can make sure that our economy rewards hard work and responsibility, that’s what I’m going to do.  Because what every American wants is a paycheck that lets them support their families, know a little economic security, and pass down some hope and optimism to their kids.  That’s something worth fighting for.  And I’ll keep fighting for it as long as I’m President.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This sounds like a good idea... (6+ / 0-)

    ...so let me be the first to say something horribly negative.


    ODS results in Obama's amazing ability to humiliate his biggest critics, on the right and the left.

    by NoFortunateSon on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 07:04:14 AM PDT

  •  "with or without Congress" (7+ / 0-)

    nice jab -

  •  We say the Republicans have an echo chamber. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, NedSparks, a2nite, TexasTom, agoldnyc

    Well you won't hear any Democrats echoing this or any other weekly address. And yet, Obama should kick us through the goal posts of governing all by himself.

    Now they have the 2nd (safety net for sloppy) Amendment, and can't be infringed to actually treat their gun like a gun and not a video game controller.

    by 88kathy on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 07:09:15 AM PDT

  •  It's meta, but not ugly - it's about (0+ / 0-)

    Recs (and wRecks), and it's titled (w)Rec'd.

    Might be worth the time to read it. It's short.

  •  Excellent Idea (6+ / 0-)

    I am sure that Paul Ryan would object to this idea. After all , he, and his Republican friends, state that people are poor because they don't want to work or because they are too lazy.

    If people are working over 40 hours per week and are not being paid, using  Paul Ryan's rational, is like saying that slaves were poor because they were too lazy or did not want to work.

    Seems like there is always plenty of work when you get it for free. Maybe this is why the unemployment rate is still higher than it should be. One person is doing the work of two, either on the same job or because one individual must work more than one job to meet their basic needs.  

    Working without pay or fair wages is the offspring of slavery. Where was the "dignity of work" in that scenario".
    (Reference: See "Twelve Years A Slave)

  •  Nurses (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, reginahny

    I just read on a nursing site that it's perfectly legal to require nurses to be available to come into work on a particular day, but not pay them anything if they're not needed. Also to pay them less than 4 hours if they come in and, say, work 2 hours.
    This explains how a med tech I worked with got paid to do morning rounds.
    Most nurses don't agree to work on these terms, but some of the other health care workers, like nursing assistants, have to accept pretty terrible terms, in addition to low pay.

  •  You just cant have so few people with all the cash (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    GreyHawk, 88kathy, tardis10

    When you have billionaire's hording 75% of the cash, and you have a very large portion of the working population just scraping by, you have a recipe for disaster.  Epic disaster.  

    Not too long ago, a person could have had a job at a market working there his or her entire life, and some how made enough money to buy their house, put their kids through college, save for retirement, and take a vacation, own a car, and  have auto and health and dental insurance.

    Today, you probably would need to work 5 shifts to make that happen.  Why?  I think the very wealthy are greedy.  Like the Wallmart system.  Have the bulk of your employees get by with minimum wage, and let them qualify for food stamps, or other government support, and Wallmart avoids having to pay the living wage, and keeps the difference, and grows wealth, by depriving those that work for them.  

    Others have just followed along, and we have a huge problem today with young adults finding out they can't even afford an apartment, let along buying a home, or having a savings account.   Overtime is the only shot at getting a little more income, and so many have found a way around that too.

    I am glad our President is on the side of the average worker, not the owners of the wallmarts out there.  Why do so many people who would benefit from the President's plan, argue against him, only because they are Republican's ?  That is pretty dumb.  I sure hope these same Republicans figure it out that they are only supporting those few that are hording it all for themselves.

    " With religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 07:48:43 AM PDT

  •  can't wait to hear the GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    88kathy, RightHeaded

    call people working 70 hours a week "moochers"

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 09:18:52 AM PDT

  •  I wonder how this will affect teachers who are (0+ / 0-)

    salaried under contract for a certain contract time each day (example 7:30 to 3:30) and for a certain number of days per year but are very often required to stay beyond that time for staff meetings or planning or any number of other things and not given any more for that time.  Saturdays are sometimes also required for meetings or development and sometimes a stipend/day exchange is given and sometimes nothing is given but it is just known that you are to come and required to do so.  This might occur several times a week throughout the whole year....some districts are known to require many hours beyond contract more so than others.  It really depends on the district and state.   Of course, this is also not considering all a teacher does at home or in her classroom after the bell rings and does so without compensation.  

  •  Filed with EFCA and Transparency (0+ / 0-)

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sat Mar 15, 2014 at 10:19:01 AM PDT

  •  out on a limb here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    I'm going way out on a limb here and you know  - state the obvious.  If you are management and you don't want to pay overtime to your dog-loyal employees how about you look at your workload.  just sayin'.  back in the old days it was layoff, after layoff, after layoff.  cut, trim, and then cut some more.  when bidness was tanking fast that made sense - TO YOU.

    well I'm here to tell you those days are gone.  your people have sucked up the workload as much as they can.  there is no way to keep up the charade that your people are doing just fine.  they aren't.  and just for the record your business isn't either.  your customers and your vendors are tired of your delays, run-arounds, and oops can't hear yous.

    all of those people you let go actually did some work.  and the poor suckers who survived are on life-support.  It's time to hire workers.  even part time ones.  let your people do a decent job for you and breathe at the same time.  

    don't want to pay overtime.  staff your f'n business properly.

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