Obama Expanded Overtime Pay To 4M Workers. Now Trump Is Scaling It Back

Gage Skidmore/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr

Trump's Labor Department is weakening an Obama-era rule that would have expanded overtime pay to more workers.

According to Vox, the Department of Labor is backpedaling on a "rule that would have doubled the minimum salary for a worker to qualify for overtime pay."

Now, only those who earn less than $23,000 annually can earn overtime pay under federal law. Overtime pay is 50% extra hourly pay for employees who work over 40 hours a week. Under Obama, the administration attempted to double the $23,000 threshold to those earning up to $47,000.

Obama’s decision to raise the limit caused outrage among powerful business groups. These groups quickly partnered with 21 Republican-controlled states to sue the administration before the rule could be put into effect. During the legal battle, the rule was put on hold, and in 2017, a federal judge in Texas invalidated the rule, saying that the Labor Department didn’t have the power to make so drastic a change. While big companies were relieved, workers were not.

Alexander Acosta, Trump’s labor secretary, has decided to create a new version of Obama’s rule. The agency is only lifting the salary limit to $35,000, and they are completely getting rid of cost-of-living increased, which means that of the 4 million workers who thought they would get overtime benefits, only 2.8 million actually will.

If the White House approves this rule, which is a very likely outcome, this will be another Trump victory in his mission to undo Obama-era regulations benefitting workers.