AFT - American Federation of Teachers

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AFT Resolutions


WHEREAS, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 set the standard for a 40-hour workweek by requiring employers to pay their employees time-and-a-half for overtime hours in excess of 40 per week. The FLSA was the culmination of over a century of struggle, in which many workers sacrificed their lives not just to improve the hours and conditions of their own employment, but to improve living standards for all workers and make our society more socially and economically just. This historic achievement for the labor movement and for all workers in America should be protected and defended; and

WHEREAS, FLSA protections apply to workers in both the private sector and public sector. Any contraction in overtime eligibility under the FLSA would apply to employees who work for a private company as well as those working for a school district or state or local government; and

WHEREAS, under current overtime eligibility regulations, workers who earn less than a weekly salary threshold (generally $455 per week) cannot be denied overtime eligibility by being classified as executive management, administrative management or professional employees. However, this protective salary threshold is not currently indexed to inflation, so every year more and more workers are bumped above the threshold and become vulnerable to losing their overtime eligibility; and

WHEREAS, when the Department of Labor last updated the overtime salary thresholds in 2004, it declared that "the Department intends in the future to update the salary levels on a more regular basis, as it did prior to 1975." Yet, the overtime salary thresholds are the same today as they were eight years ago. It is time to update those levels and index them to prevent more and more workers from losing overtime protection every year; and

WHEREAS, the current overtime eligibility regulations allow employers to deny overtime eligibility to "computer professionals" who earn as little as $455 per week on a salary basis, or $27.63 on an hourly basis. It has never been clear why computer professionals should be denied overtime protection at all, especially if they earn this little. Computer professionals need protections from excessive hours just as much as other employees do, yet employers are seeking to roll back their overtime eligibility, forcing them to work at lower fixed salaries without overtime; and

WHEREAS, the protective salary threshold for computer professionals needs to be updated and indexed. In order to keep up with inflation since the rate was last set, the hourly threshold would need to be raised to $45.63; and

WHEREAS, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would take us in the opposite direction. The Computer Professionals Update Act (S. 1747) would strip overtime protection from large numbers of computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers and other hi-tech employees.'According to the Congressional Research Service, S. 1747 "effectively eliminates overtime protection for all IT professionals"; and

WHEREAS, the corporations lobbying for S. 1747 would undoubtedly prefer to pay their employees less and overwork their existing workforce rather than hire new workers or pay a fair wage. In fact, it was in response to this kind of behavior that Congress passed the FLSA; and

WHEREAS, IBM, Oracle and other information technology employers paid tens of millions of dollars to settle allegations that they broke the law by not paying overtime to their workers. After agreeing to the settlement, IBM then turned around and gave its workers a pay cut. Now IBM and other information technology companies are asking Congress to weaken the law that they were accused of breaking:

RESOLVED, that under no circumstances should we strip overtime protection from workers in specific occupations, such as computer systems analysts, programmers, software engineers or other information technology workers. Regardless of whether these workers are employed by private companies, school districts, or federal, state or local government, these workers deserve the full protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act; and

RESOLVED, that Congress should not repeal the FLSA piece by piece by accommodating employers asking for permission to pay their workers less and make them work longer hours; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers will call on Congress to honor the intent of the FLSA by categorically rejecting S. 1747 and all other proposals to roll back overtime eligibility. Instead, Congress should take action now to reverse the erosion of overtime protections that has already occurred in recent decades, and to update and index the overtime salary thresholds so workers do not lose overtime protection as wages and salaries rise with inflation.