Over the last 50 years I’ve seen workers’ payroll rights eroded by “business-friendly” legislation.

Overtime pay was awarded by law to hourly and salary non-exempt workers. In the 1970s, more than 60 percent of salaried workers qualified for overtime pay. In 2019, just 7 percent of salaried workers qualified. In fact, American workers are more productive than they ever were.

What’s changed is that while wages have increased, the threshold at which salaried workers are eligible for overtime has not risen with it. That has led to an increasing number of salaried workers who work far more than 40 hours a week but aren’t compensated for it.

What’s worse, the Trump administration just announced in September that they’re rolling back Obama administration rules expanding overtime protections, Thousands of Mainers will be denied the right to be compensated for their overtime work.

I was encouraged that our Legislature is taking up L.D. 402, which would put Barack Obama’s overtime protections in place for more Maine workers. It’s time we start paying workers for the hours they work so they don’t need a second job to make up for lost pay for lost hours.

Ed Kearney

Management Engineering


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