After Decades of Exclusion, Victory for Home Care Workers

Home care work has finally been recognized as real work with federal minimum wage and overtime pay rights. More than two million home care workers—people who care for the sick and disabled in the United States—will now have these critical protections. This win comes after the Department of Labor’s 2013 regulation to grant minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers went into effect last month.

Enforcement began this week. Thanks to the tireless work of advocates who communicated with Labor Secretary Tom Perez and the Department of Labor over the years to ensure the success of this rule, federal minimum wage and overtime protections for home care workers are now in effect.

To learn more about the new rights home care workers have, read NCLR’s fact sheet.

Share the good news and make sure home care workers know their rights!

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Join the Fight to Fix Overtime!

A new proposed overtime rule would benefit 2.1 million Latinos, but it won’t happen without you. It’s up to us now to show our support for overtime and tell Secretary Perez to make fixing overtime a reality. Visit fixovertime.org to calculate what the change could mean for your take home pay.

Download and share these images with your networks to help spread the word!

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We Can Fix Overtime with Your Help

By Stephanie Román, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

MisHorasExtras_Sharegraphic_Blog_ENG1What if we could increase wages, compensate people fairly for overtime work, and benefit 13.5 million workers without having to go through a stalled Congress? Well, we’re all in luck, because the Department of Labor wants to do all of that with a single proposed overtime rule.

As we’ve covered in a previous post on overtime, the Department of Labor’s proposed raise would increase the salary threshold for overtime pay eligibility from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to about $970 a week ($50,440 a year).

Fixing overtime is long past due. Overtime protections have eroded substantially over the last several decades: today only 8 percent of full-time salaried workers are eligible for overtime pay compared to more than 62 percent in 1975. In raw numbers, millions of salaried workers have lost overtime eligibility over the years due to an outdated salary threshold and today only 3.5 million salaried workers are eligible, compared to nearly 12 million in 1979.

New estimates from the Economic Policy Institute project that 2.1 million Latinos who are currently exempt from overtime protections would directly benefit as early as 2016. The 2.1 million Latinos who could benefit represent 34.4 percent of all salaried Latino workers. Updating the threshold—which could mean hundreds of dollars in additional pay each week for affected workers—is necessary for the economic security of Latinos and their families.

Outdated overtime rules contribute to unfair pay, which can have harmful consequences for all workers—including the 12.9 million Latinos living in poverty in the United States. We stand to benefit from an increase in the threshold because Latinos are the most likely to earn poverty-level wages, have low levels of household wealth, and work in industries where more workers would benefit. We are also a quickly growing population in a majority of the states where the rule would have the most impact.

The benefit Latinos will receive from the proposed overtime rule is critical to the economic security of Latino families, but it won’t become a reality unless the Department of Labor hears from all of us. Now it’s up to us, the public, to show our support and spread the word.

Visit FixOvertime.org and MisHorasExtras.org to learn more about the proposed rule, to calculate how much you could benefit, and to share your support for the rule.

Join NCLR on social media to spread the word on how the overtime rule can benefit Latinos using the hashtags #FixOvertime and #MisHorasExtras. Let’s show Secretary of Labor Tom Perez that Latinos support fixing overtime!

Click the images below to download and share!

Workin’ Overtime? Making Less Than $50k? You Might Get a Raise.

By Catherine Singley Harvey, Manager, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

How we felt when the proposed rule was announced.

How we felt when the proposed rule was announced. From Diana Ross’ “Workin’ Overtime.” Click to watch her video.

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced a proposal to greatly expand the number of workers who would be eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours a week.

The proposed rule from the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the salary threshold to determine which workers are covered by overtime protections from $455 a week ($23,660 a year) to about $970 a week ($50,440 a year). The administration estimates that five million salaried workers would see their wages rise next year if this change is approved. Latinos would especially benefit since 44 percent earn less than $50,000 a year.

This widely popular change is long overdue. In 1975, 62 percent of salaried workers were covered by overtime; today only 8 percent are covered. As a result, millions more Americans are working long hours but are still unable to cover basic costs like proper nutrition, school supplies, and rent. In fact, the current salary threshold for overtime is below the poverty line for a family of four. Outdated overtime rules are contributing to stagnant wages that are holding working families back.

Strong resistance from business lobbyists has halted all but one update to the overtime threshold since the 1970s. But President Obama made it a priority for his second term, instructing U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to fix overtime in 2013. Secretary Perez’s proposed rule does that, plus it calls for the salary threshold rise automatically so that it doesn’t get stuck again.

Now it’s up to us, the public, to show our support. Visit fixovertime.org to calculate what the change could mean for your take home pay and to tell Secretary Perez to make fixing overtime a reality.

This Thanksgiving, Remember that Safe Food Begins with Safe Workplaces

(This was first posted to the National Council for Occupational Health and Safety blog.)

Guest Blog by Catherine Singley, Senior Policy Analyst, NCLR

Poultry workers

This year, President Obama will carry out the tradition of pardoning the White House Thanksgiving turkey. Indeed, for most of us, the Thanksgiving turkey is the centerpiece of this quintessentially American tradition. That’s why Americans consumers should be alarmed to learn that the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products, is pursuing a regulatory change that would put consumers and food workers in harm’s way. Under the auspices of improving food safety, USDA’s proposed rule would actually pull government inspectors off of poultry processing lines and allow companies to speed up their production lines.

USDA’s proposed inspection model would allow production line speed to increase from 32 turkeys to 55 turkeys per minute (a 72 percent increase). In chicken plants, the speed would increase from 140 to 175 birds per minute (a 25 percent increase). That’s about one-third of a second to inspect each bird.  Continue reading