NAICU Washington Update

House Subcommittee Examines Federal Wage and Hour Issues, Including Overtime

February 23, 2017

The House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections recently held a hearing to address federal wage and hour issues in the current economy.  While the hearing was to review federal rules implementing wage and hour protections, much of the testimony focused on the Obama Administration’s proposed Rule on Overtime Pay.

Witnesses included Andy Brantley, President and CEO of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) and Christine Walters, who represented the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).  Brantley described the higher education community’s widespread concerns associated with the overtime proposal, and the effects the proposal would have on colleges and universities.  According to Brantley, those effects included the high costs of compliance that would likely result in reduced services and increased tuition.  

Walters, who echoed Brantley’s concerns, had additional comments on the inequity in the proposed rule from the perspective of employers.  For example, she noted that public sector employers (including many public colleges and universities) would have the legal option to offer comp time arrangements to employees, while private sector employers (including private colleges and universities) would not.

The Chairman of the Subcommittee, Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL), said he wants the current Congress and Administration to reexamine the Fair Labor Standards Act and make sure it is updated to ensure the strongest workforce possible.  He’d like to see less federal intrusion into small business operations, and a more moderately paced overtime pay adjustment that would not have the harmful effects of what was proposed last year.

Ranking Minority Member, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) affirmed his strong support for the Obama Overtime Rule, and described opponents of the rule as betraying working people across the country.  Brantley, however, pushed back on this and emphasized that colleges and universities do support a fair wage and an increase in the overtime threshold, but not the immediate, near-doubling recommended by the Obama Administration.

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