Disputing Bush administration estimates, a labor-backed 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.
Sen. John Kerry has said that if elected president he would move immediately to restore overtime protections to those who would lose it.
The presumptive Democratic nominee said the analysis by the former Labor officials, who worked in Republican and Democratic administrations, demonstrated that the Bush administration rules “represent a shameful assault on the paychecks of hardworking Americans.”
The Economic Policy Institute report 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” even though they do not have college degrees.
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.
The report by the three former Labor Department officials said the rules change impact was likely to be significant because “more classes of workers and a greater proportion of the work force overall will be exempt than we believe the Congress could have originally intended.”