Thursday, July 15, 2004

Group puts overtime loss at 6M workers

By Martin Crutsinger
The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Disputing Bush administration estimates, a liberal think tank said Wednesday that new federal rules will remove overtime protections for at least 6 million U.S. workers.

The study by the Economic Policy Institute was released a day after three former Labor Department officials said in a report requested by the AFL-CIO that "large numbers" of employees entitled to overtime would no longer get it when the new rules take effect Aug. 23.

The Bush administration took issue with the findings.

"These latest studies are a rehash of misinformation that the AFL-CIO put out about the department's final overtime security rule in April, assertions that were completely discredited in congressional hearings," said Labor Department spokesman Ed Frank.

The department estimates that up to 107,000 high-income workers making $100,000 or more annually could lose overtime under the new rules, while 1.3 million low-wage workers who are denied overtime will become eligible.

On a party line vote Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee rejected an amendment by Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., that would have prohibited implementing any portions of the new rule that would reduce the number of workers eligible for overtime.

The report by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that among those who would lose overtime protection were nearly 2 million administrative workers who can be classified as "team leaders" and 920,000 workers who can be reclassified as a "learned professional." .

The EPI study also said 1.4 million workers who, because of the rules changes, can be reclassified as executives will lose overtime pay as will an estimated 130,000 chefs and cooks, 160,000 financial service workers and 117,000 teachers and computer programmers.

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